Japan will aim to make life “uncomfortable” for star Ireland pair Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray in their Rugby World Cup clash, according to scrum-half Yutaka Nagare.
World Cup hosts Japan face Ireland in their second fixture on Saturday, aiming to follow up the country’s opening victory against Russia with a huge upset.
Joe Schmidt’s Ireland boast two talented kickers in Sexton – the World Rugby Player of the Year – and Murray, leading Nagare to acknowledge the importance of stopping the pair.
Scotland had spoken of a desire to “smash” Sexton in their opener but failed in that respect, while Murray excelled when his team-mate started to struggle with a thigh problem.
Nagare said: “The nine [Murray] and 10 [Sexton] are key players. If we let those two players play comfortably, they will really come into the game and dominate.
“So it’s important we pressure them at source every opportunity we get, and apply that pressure for the whole 80 minutes – especially apply immense pressure early on, so that they feel really uncomfortable from the start.”
Update: @peterom6 & @bundeeaki12 passed HIA 2 post game will undergo HIA 3 later today. Not ruled out for next game. @JohnnySexton took a bang to thigh but tactical replacement. @joshvdf – cramp but ok
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 23, 2019
Japan struggled when receiving kicks against Russia, too, with the Bears’ shock opening try coming courtesy of a William Tupou fumble from a dropping ball.
Full-back Ryohei Yamanaka revealed the Brave Blossoms have been working to simulate the scenarios they will face in the Group A fixture in Fukuroi.
“There are different situations in the kicking game – could be a box kick, high ball from 10 – so we’re simulating those different scenarios,” he said.
“We always focus on protecting [the receiver] but we just needed more focus on that, so it’s all about escorting.
“They kick a lot, so I must catch, be secure and keep possession. And it’s also all about playing our game.”
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