Japan 'chop tackle' to counter Springbok bulk

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Japan have perfected the art of the "chop tackle" to counter heavyweight opponents like South Africa at the Rugby World Cup, according to defence coach Leigh Jones.

The Springboks will be the formidable first obstacle on Saturday in Brighton when Japan start their campaign to prove they are worthy hosts of the 2019 World Cup.

Japan's less imposing stature has often been a handicap in past tournaments and the likes of South Africa prop Tendai 'the Beast' Mtawarira will pose a new threat in the Pool B game in Brighton.

But Jones said Japan's players can counter the brawn with smart 'chop' tackles where the defender throws his arms around an advancing player's legs.

"I've said this to the guys, but I think Japan players are the best chop tacklers in the world. They have to be, to cope with the size of the other teams," said Jones, a key assistant to Japan's head coach Eddie Jones.

"We are the best chop team in the world."

South Africa's coach Heyneke Meyer has acknowledged the awkward threat posed by the Japanese XV.

"We play against the big teams from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere quite often and with them it's mostly a case of you know what to expect," said Meyer.

"But Japan will pose a different threat," he added. "Our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a very high tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum."

Leigh Jones said South Africa will be wary of the chop tackles.

"Everybody will treat Japan with respect so they will do their homework and analysis," he said.

Japan's players say they have been working on other ways to make sure their forwards can match South Africa.

"The way we've been scrumming lately has added to our confidence and if we take it up another notch against South Africa, it will do wonders for our self-belief," said prop Keita Inagaki.

Kensuke Hatakeyama, also a prop, said "We've been visualising the way South Africa scrum all along and how we can counter that. That's something we weren't doing four years ago for our first game against France.

"I think we're more capable of holding our own in the scrum."

Hatekeyama admitted that South Africa are "incredibly strong with set pieces; they built their game plan around them.

"We need to be able to fight them in the scrum so we can get into our rhythm and not theirs. But above all we've got to show a will to compete."

Japan face Scotland just four days after South Africa and that is a looming worry.

"If we're lousy in our first game, I can't imagine the kind of shape we'll be in for our second because we only have three days in between," said Inagaki.

"Our focus has solely been on South Africa. We did a lot of going over the other teams in May, June, July but to be honest, I hadn't thought about Scotland until I was asked about it now."