John McFarland (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok defence coach John McFarland says Japan will not be taken for granted when the two teams duel in a Rugby World Cup clash in Brighton on Saturday.
The No 3-ranked Springboks should comfortably beat the 13th-ranked Japanese but McFarland stressed that they will face a well-organised outfit, coached by former Wallabies mentor Eddie Jones.
Jones, who is expected to be named Stormers coach for next year’s Super Rugby competition, has sound knowledge of South African rugby, having worked as an assistant to the Boks during their victorious 2007 World Cup campaign in France.
“They are a well-coached team. They are coached by a guy who’s been involved with a side that’s won the World Cup and played in a World Cup final, so they know what they’re about, they’re well organised,” McFarland said at a press conference in Eastbourne on Monday.
According to McFarland, Japan will attempt to play a fast-paced game against the heavy Springbok forward pack.
“It’s up to us to control the tempo of the game. They’ve certainly got some players who have got Super Rugby experience.
“We’re expecting a quick game, they’ll try and take us off the pace of our game, so we must be ready for anything.”
McFarland also added that the Springboks’ fitness had improved since a Rugby Championship campaign which saw them lose three consecutive matches.
“We’ve worked really hard over the period now, certainly the testing that’s been done shows the conditioning levels have increased dramatically and you can see it just in our in-game stats over the eight-week period, even in the (Rugby) Championship...
“You could see guys were getting up off the floor quicker, there were second efforts being made, so I’m really pleased with where we are now. I think our conditioning is better.”
Saturday’s clash at Brighton Community Stadium is scheduled for 17:45 (SA time).