The Brave Blossoms now struggle to get out for a simple cup of coffee after becoming national heroes as Rugby World Cup fever grips Japan, NZ-born coach Jamie Joseph says.
Japan beat Scotland last week to qualify for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup for the first time and fans had been swept up, with Brave Blossoms jerseys selling out.
“I haven’t been able to quantify exactly what’s going on outside because we tend to just stick to the hotels, go to training and come back,” Joseph told 1 NEWS.
“Certainly, from the reports I’ve read and the messages I’ve been getting from my own family and friends, it’s just been phenomenal and unforeseen really, that’s really special for us as a group.”
“I understand there were 60 million people watching our last match and we’re getting more and more support, it’s hard for the players to go outside and have a cup of coffee now.”
“That’s great, that’s what we’re working towards.”
Joseph said his team were preparing for the South Africa’s physicality with the Springboks making no secret of how they would play the game.
“After the match there were a lot of celebrations, the families were all with us, that was a great night for us, first two days after that we really gave the players some time to themselves to get away from rugby for a little bit, we started our prep for South Africa on Thursday,” Joseph said.
“We’re under no illusions on how tough the match is going to be, we’re playing a team that’s won two World Cups, a very proud rugby nation.”
“Their intent about how they’re going to play us has been very clear, they’re going to be a physical battle for us, what we need to do is focus on what we do well and that’ll be our attitude going into the match.”
Joseph had no trouble refocusing the players though as he paid credit to New Zealand-born captain Michael Leitch for his leadership.
“Our players are really hungry, really keen, our first goal has been achieved, we haven’t had to say too much about resetting the players, the players have done that themselves, we’ve got really good leaders with Michael Leitch.”
Japan play South Africa in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday night.