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Fearless Japan are relishing Springboks contest, insists Helu


Full focus: Uwe Helu believes Japan can spring another surprise
Full focus: Uwe Helu believes Japan can spring another surprise

By Nick Purewal

Uwe Helu has warned South Africa to write Japan off at their peril in Sunday's World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo.

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Tonga-born lock Helu believes no one in the rugby world will even consider the notion of a Japan victory in this weekend's fascinating last-eight battle.

Japan shocked Ireland 19-12 then beat Scotland 28-21 to top Pool A with four wins from four.

Jamie Joseph's team handed hope and joy to a nation suffering the after-effects of Typhoon Hagibis with Sunday's irrepressible victory over the Scots.

And now the 16-cap second row Helu believes the Brave Blossoms can repeat that feat against the Springboks.

"For me, we've already made our goal," said Helu. No one expected us to make the top eight.

"We've already proved everyone wrong. No one will even look at us to win this game this week, so it's another chance to prove people wrong.

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"We love to give everything for our fans, knowing they will always support us.

"When you win something, and make something happen like that, you just want to keep going.

"We're still feeling the crowd excitement and support from the last game.

"Just knowing and finding out how many people were watching the game, that is a huge boost.

"We always know that if we keep winning lots of people will support us. It adds extra motivation.

"It's such a good feeling. Just the energy that the fans bring. It definitely boosts us, that's for sure."

More than 60 million people tuned in to watch Japan see off Scotland and reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Japan lost 41-7 to South Africa in a World Cup warm-up match in Kumagaya on September 6, but Helu believes that is no indicator of events ahead this weekend.

He believes it will take a herculean effort - but also believes the Brave Blossoms are ready.

"That warm-up game was five weeks ago so a lot's changed since then," said Helu.

"They are a physical team, so we need to be smarter in how we attack, stick to our gameplan - we trust our gameplan. We just need to attack at speed.

"We're trying to identify specific defenders and exploit them. We need to trick this guy to do that, so we can get good ball.

"South Africa are different from other teams, they did more work as a group. They come in twos and threes when they attack.

"It doesn't matter if you've got to make 200, 300 tackles. No matter what's coming, you've got to keep tackling. No matter what's coming, we'll take them on any time."

Japan vs South Africa

World Cup quarter-final:

Tokyo, Sunday, 9.00am

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