London - England coach Eddie Jones has no intention of
getting sentimental when his side face 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts Japan at
Twickenham on Saturday despite guiding the Asian nation to their greatest rugby
Jones was in charge of Japan when they beat South Africa
34-32 in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup in England - arguably the biggest upset
in the history of the sport.
But Jones' connections to Japan run far deeper than coaching
stints with both the Brave Blossoms and the Suntory club.
The Australia-born Jones is the son of a Japanese-American
mother, while his wife is Japanese.
However, Jones has insisted both he and Japan had moved on
since their memorable triumph three years ago.
"Japan are progressing really nicely. The team has
regenerated - there are only five or six players left from the team that I
coached and they're the outstanding players like Michael Leitch and Kenki
Fukuoka," Jones said.
"I think Japan are benefiting from playing Super Rugby.
Previously Japanese sides were happy to get beaten, they were the Brave Blossoms,
but now this new generation of Japanese players believe they can win and that
makes them a much stronger team."
As for his wider feelings towards Japan and Japanese rugby,
Jones added: "It doesn't disappear but I've never, by nationality, called
myself Japanese because I was brought up as an Australian.
"Japan was part of our family, and obviously marrying a
Japanese, having a dog that only speaks Japanese, it's a big part of the
"But this is a serious Test match and you don't allow
those things to cloud your thoughts."
Jones has made 11 changes to the side that suffered an
agonising 16-15 loss at home to world champions New Zealand last weekend, with
powerful Fiji-born wing Joe Cokanasiga - who arrived in England aged just three
- given a Test debut.
"He's just been playing consistently well for
Bath," said Jones of Cokanasiga, who turned 21 on Thursday.
"We were always going to play him in November. This
week is the right opportunity, and he's going to be tested."
George Ford comes off the bench to captain the side in what
will be the fly-half's 50th Test with Owen Farrell and Dylan Hartley, England's
co-captains so far this month, now both among the replacements.
Jones has repeatedly stressed he wanted this week to mirror
England's campaign at the World Cup, where a four-day turnaround between their
opening two matches against Tonga and the United States could lead to line-up
"We've spoken about how we always play with a squad of
23 and we mean it," he said. "That's what we need to have at the
World Cup, people who can adapt from being a starter and then being a finisher
"One of the interesting stats to come out of the New
Zealand game, you know what the score was in the last 20 minutes? 0-0. How many
teams have done that to New Zealand?
"It just shows the quality of our finishers. Our guys
competed right to the death, which gives us confidence going forward."
Japan will again be led by Leitch, their skipper against the
Springboks three years ago.
Jamie Joseph, the Japan coach, named a much-changed side
from the one that put up a gutsy showing in a 69-31 defeat by his native New
Zealand a fortnight ago.
"It's the best team that's available," said Joseph,
with Japan paying their 'amateur' players under 14 (2 000 Yen) per day, whereas
their England counterparts earn 25 000 per match.
Saturday's fixture will be just the second Test between the
two countries, with England having thrashed Japan 60-7 at the inaugural 1987
And Jones was adamant his wife's loyalties were as undivided
as his own, saying: "She's English. She said she'll get very upset if
anyone asks her. You don't want to upset my wife."
15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Danny Care, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jamie George, 1 Alec Hepburn
Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Ted Hill, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Henry Slade
15 William Tupou, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Masakatsu Nishikawa, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki
Substitutes: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Samuela Anise, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 22 Yutaka Nagare, 23 Rikiya Matsuda