Japan look to Jones' impact
Eddie Jones (Gallo Images)
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Tokyo - Scott Wisemantel could not have imagined a tougher debut as Japan's interim coach than Saturday's Test against New Zealand - and the Australian admitted he will be all too pleased to hand the reins back to Eddie Jones as soon as possible.
Head coach Jones was hospitalised on October 15 and diagnosed with a minor stroke after complaining of a severe headache and the former Wallabies coach is expected to remain in hospital for at least a couple more weeks.
"Eddie is the head coach and my tenure is for this Test and the European tour. Hopefully then Eddie will be back as it will mean he has had a speedy recovery," the 42-year-old Wisemantel told Japanese media.
Following the All Blacks Test in Tokyo, Japan will travel to Britain to face Scotland at Murrayfield on November 9, Gloucester on November 12 and Russia at Colwyn Bay, Wales on November 15.
They will play Spain in Madrid on November 23 for the final match of the European tour.
Wisemantel, who has had stints as assistant coach for the Wallabies and the Waratahs, said the team had to move on from the temporary loss of Jones.
"Of course we were all worried about Eddie," said the coach, who had earlier accepted that Jones' absence has had an effect on the squad. "But now that we know he is making a good recovery, we need to work out how to move forward."
Wisemantel, whose playing career included spells with Sydney's Eastwood Rugby Club and rugby league's Parramatta Eels, has been in regular touch with Jones to discuss the preparation but said his coaching style was different from his boss.
"I coach like Scott Wisemantel. I am not trying to be Eddie Jones," he said. "Eddie has put a fantastic system in place and I am going to coach within that system. But our management styles are different."
Saturday's match will be the first for the hosts against New Zealand outside of the World Cup and after the All Blacks defeated Japan 83-7 on the way to the 2011 title and 145-17 in 1995, it represents a baptism by fire for Wisemantel.
"Obviously I feel a lot of responsibility and with that comes some pressure," he said. "Eddie and I share the same passion.
"The focus is to get results, that's every coach's goal. We are up against the best team in the world but everyone is really excited."
Japan will name their side to take on New Zealand on Thursday and Jones will have a say in the selection.
"I guarantee 100 percent that he will want to watch the training videos," Wisemantel added. "Eddie is still very much the boss."