Canada have a superb chance to secure an automatic bid to the 2015 World Cup with a victory over Japan on Tuesday in Napier.
Already with a win over Tonga and standing at 1-1, Canada hope to claim their second victory when they take on Japan, a team that has already lost to Tonga.
Canada Head Coach Kieran Crowley doesn’t want to get caught up in the idea that they should easily beat Japan because they beat Tonga, and Tonga beat Japan 31-18.
“There’s not much between the teams (in Pool A) and Japan had a little bit of a bad day in terms of how their hands went,” Crowley said. “They turned over two or three balls, and if you look at that side of things that then creates momentum for the other team. On any day I think that most teams can knock off the other ones.”
Crowley and Japan Head Coach John Kirwan were both All Blacks when they won the World Cup in 1987, and Crowley had praise for his former teammate.
“He’s doing his job with Japan and he’s done an outstanding job with them,” said Crowley. “They have come a hell of long way and they’re certainly putting the resources into the right areas and he’s made huge strides with them."
In 2007 Japan and Canada tied 12-12 on a controversial ending. The Canadians were convinced time was up and kicked to touch. The referee called for one more play, and Japan scored to tie the match.
“It’s night and day (how much both Canada and Japan have changed) since the last World Cup,” said flanker Adam Kleeberger. “If you look at this World Cup alone and some of the games that the so-called ‘minnow' nations have been having against the top 10 teams. We’ve been challenging them up to a certain point, but then, unfortunately, in most of the games that last 20 minutes seems to be where teams falter. But I think it’s just night and day in terms of the skill execution, the fitness levels and everything.”