Rugby World Cup 2011

Kirwan coy on Japan future

2011-09-27 11:54
John Kirwan (File)

Napier - Japan coach John Kirwan on Tuesday admitted he could quit the team after seeing their bid for a first Rugby World Cup win in 20 years fall agonisingly short in a 23-23 draw with Canada.

Kirwan said he was left "flat" by the result in Japan's final World Cup game, adding that he thought they had done more than enough to win.

The Canadians pulled back eight points in the final six minutes, flyhalf Ander Monro first scoring a try and then nailing a last-minute penalty to pull the scores level and deny Japan their first World Cup victory since 1991.

"I'm off-contract. I'm going to take a few weeks off and look at some options, probably wait until the end of the World Cup," Kirwan said.

"I love international football, it really excites me. It's fantastic, I love being here, I love being at World Cups and love the international stage. I've got to wait until I get an offer.

"It's been an exciting and great four years with the Japanese team. There is still a lot of work to do over there.

"Clubs in Europe, coming home to New Zealand, or staying with Japan, they're all options."

It was the second successive World Cup that the two teams have registered a draw after Japan needed a last-gasp conversion to tie the scores at 12 points apiece at the 2007 tournament.

Tries from Shota Horie and Kosuke Endo allied with 13 points from the boot of James Arlidge had put Japan in the driving seat and seemingly ready to make up for previous Pool A losses to France (47-21), Tonga (31-18) and New Zealand (83-7).

"I thought we'd done enough to win the game," said Kirwan, the former All Black wing. "I'm obviously disappointed, I thought we had it.

"A few too many errors in the second half cost us dearly. That's the way the game goes sometimes, but I'm disappointed.

"I don't think we eased off at all. I think Canada showed desperation to try and get the game back, all credit to them."

Kirwan added that there were too many individual errors caused by pressure of performing on a big stage, and labelled the World Cup campaign as a "disappointment".

"At times we just needed to get down there, put a bit more pressure on them, get some more points. But that's the World Cup, they kept coming at us and ended up with the draw," he said.

"I'm disappointed not to get up and win today. It would've been our first win in 20 years. We had goals that we wanted to beat Tonga and Canada, so that's disappointing."

But the All Blacks legend, who scored a memorable length-of-the-pitch try against Italy in the 1987 World Cup, defended his team's style and also the 10 foreigners who turned out in the red and white of the Brave Blossoms.

"We made heaps of in-roads in the style of how we play. We need to learn how to cope with pressure individually so we don't make as many individual errors, but the style we play is very positive and we put teams under pressure with that," he said.

"However, it's about results, so if we'd got up and got that win today it would have been a really positive World Cup, but the draw leaves you a little bit flat."

Kirwan also defended his selection policy, saying simply: "My job is to pick the best team in Japan. I don't look at colour or race and I think we need to put a lid on this 'foreigners playing for other countries' thing.

"We have rules and we stick by those rules. Growing up young Japanese is the job of the high performance (team). I think we need to say 'let's celebrate that other people can play for other nations'."


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