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Leitch says Japan will not bow down to England at Twickenham

Leitch says Japan will not bow down to England at Twickenham
© Reuters
Eddie Jones, the former Japan coach, had warned the Brave Blossoms to go to the temple and pray ahead of the game.

Michael Leitch has insisted Japan will not bow down to England or ex-coach Eddie Jones at Twickenham on Saturday.

Japan captain Leitch offered a deliberately cryptic response to Jones telling the Brave Blossoms to go to the temple and pray ahead of Saturday's west London Test.

Leitch made the bold call for Jones' Japan to kick a penalty to the corner that sparked the last-gasp try to stun South Africa 34-32 for the greatest shock in World Cup history in Brighton in 2015.

Rugby Union – Japan Press Conference – Hilton Brighton Metropole
Michael Leitch, left, has pledged Japan will not take a backward step against Eddie Jones' England (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The back-rower hailed mentor Jones as one of the driving forces of his 57-cap career, but used an all-purpose Japanese phrase to provide an ambivalent response to the England boss' words of warning.

"We have a saying in Japan: 'sou desu ne', which means 'yes' and that's all I can say," said Leitch, on Jones' comments.

"So we don't read into anything that's been said in the media, we just focus on what we're trying to do here.

Eddie Jones
Jones could feature in a Hollywood film about his exploits with the Japan team (Adam Davy/PA)

"Coming up against England we're obviously not going to go there and bow down, we are going to go out there and win it."

Former Chiefs and current Sunwolves flanker Leitch left his native New Zealand for Japan aged 15, later becoming a citizen in his adopted home.

Hollywood is primed to make a glitzy movie out of Japan's stunning triumph over South Africa in 2015, with Kiwi actor Temuera Morrison slated to play current England boss Jones.

Morrison played cult character 'Jake The Muss' in the classic Kiwi film 'Once For Warriors', and Leitch admitted there could be no better actor to play Jones.

The 30-year-old hailed Jones for transforming Japanese rugby, with the Brave Blossoms bidding to reach a maiden quarter-final when hosting next year's World Cup.

"I've known Eddie since I was at university, so we have a great relationship," said Leitch.

"He's always been highly regarded, he started out in Japan back in 1998 or something like that.

"He's coached Suntory, won championships there, and obviously coached Japan and changed the history of Japanese rugby. So he's very highly regarded in Japan.

"Eddie has a big role to play in that movie. The great thing Eddie did with Japanese rugby, he changed the mindset.

Steve Borthwick
Steve Borthwick played a vital role in helping the Japan team develop (David Davies/PA)

"The national team always accepted losing, but once we changed that, he set us on the right track. Jake the Muss (Kiwi actor Temuera), they could not pick it better to play Eddie!"

Current England forwards coach Steve Borthwick helped Japan mastermind that Springboks shock, working under Jones back at the last World Cup.

And Leitch admitted Japan are still using elements of his coaching, some three years on.

Leitch said: "Steve was fantastic; he was a guy I could really rely on. His expertise and leadership was something that really helped me in the four years' preparation for the World Cup.

"His expertise at lineout, maul, some of that detail and some of the standards he brought into the team are still here. We still use some of his language today."


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England's Eddie Jones and Dylan Hartley on June 18, 2016
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