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'We're going to back ourselves': Japan's battle cry ahead of Wallabies showdown

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22nd October, 2021
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Renegade lock Jack Cornelsen has warned rugby fans to write the Brave Blossoms off at their peril ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the Wallabies in Oita.

One of three Australian players lacing up for Japan, Cornelsen is convinced the Brave Blossoms have sufficient strike power to cause another boilover at the state-of-the-art Showa Denko Dome.

After stunning Ireland and Scotland en route to the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals, Jamie Joseph’s cosmopolitan outfit have established themselves as a genuine top-tier force.

Proving themselves as anything but one-tournament wonders, the Brave Blossoms pushed Ireland in a 39-31 defeat in Dublin in July after Cornelsen debuted for Japan off the bench in a 28-10 loss to the British and Irish Lions at Murrayfield the week before.

The son of Wallabies great Greg Cornelsen accepts it will be a tall order to snap Australia’s four-Test winning streak, but has no doubt it can be done.
“We’re definitely going to back ourselves,” Cornelsen told AAP.

“The Wallabies are coming off a couple of good wins against South Africa twice and the Argies twice so they’re on a bit of a hot streak but we’d definitely back ourselves to get one up on them.”

The versatile forward will be making his starting debut for the Brave Blossoms, alongside blindside flanker Ben Gunter.

Winger Dylan Riley, a teammate of Cornelsen’s and Gunter’s at Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights, will start from the bench.

Cornelsen is tipping the 10th-ranked Brave Blossoms to surprise many with their resilience against the Wallabies, who have soared to No.3 in the world behind South Africa and New Zealand.

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“From watching the World Cup, Japan’s skill set and the attack is probably what a lot of people from around the world would see,” he said.

“But, as well, I think the defence and commitment there is probably something that people don’t really see from the outside.

“But from being inside the group, it’s something I’m definitely seeing. It’s something the squad really takes pride in.
“That’s definitely a big part of our game.”

A two-time Brisbane club rugby premiership winner with the University of Queensland before moving to Japan three years ago, Cornelsen nominated destructive No.8 Kazuki Himeno as the Brave Blossoms’ chief strike weapon.

“He’s always someone who can break open a game,” Cornelsen said.

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“In terms of backs, a lot of the boys are quite electric and can sort of create something from nothing.”

© AAP

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