Tokyo - Japan is looking to cash in on the
rugby fever that swept the nation in recent weeks by unveiling a life-size
bronze statue of Rugby World Cup star Ayumu Goromaru.
However, fans hoping to catch a glimpse of
the golden-coloured figure - crouching with its fingers clasped together in the
player's trademark kick routine - will have to be quick.
After being unveiled by Goromaru himself on
Monday it will decorate Tokyo's Christmas illuminations for a month only and be
removed again afterwards.
"They've reproduced my fingers in real
detail," Japan's latest sporting pinup told reporters. "When I first
heard about the statue I kind of wished they had statues of the whole Japan
Goromaru played a key role as Japan's Brave
Blossoms, led by Australian coach Eddie Jones, upset the odds by posting three
wins at the recent World Cup in England, including a stunning 34-32 victory
over two-time champions South Africa in their opening game.
His metronomic kicking in particular helped
elevate Goromaru to hero status in Japan after further victories over Samoa and
the United States as Japan narrowly missed out on a place in the
Rugby fanatics have even started flocking
in their thousands to a giant golden Buddha statue at a temple in central Japan
because its hands are pressed together and pointing skyward like Goromaru as he
weighs up a kick.
Before the ceremony to unveil his statue, the
bronze Goromaru stood covered somewhat forlornly in a ghostly white sheet.
The player will hope that does not prove an
omen for next year, when he joins Queensland Reds for the 2016 Super Rugby
"From February when I take on the
challenge of playing overseas I'll be starting from zero," he said.
"I want to show that Japanese players can dream of playing abroad."