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How the Backstreet Boys are helping Japan's bid for a Rugby World Cup upset ahead of Ireland game

Yutaka Nagare and his Japan team-mates have been showing off their singing skills during the tournament so far...
Yutaka Nagare and his Japan team-mates have been showing off their singing skills during the tournament so far...
Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima is congratulated after scoring his side's opening try of the Rugby World Cup by Yutaka Nagare.

By Nick Purewal

Japan have revealed the Backstreet Boys' biggest hit as the soundtrack to their World Cup campaign.

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The Brave Blossoms close every training session with the American boy band's 1999 classic 'I Want It That Way', in a bid to relieve tension but also tighten squad bonds.

Scrum-half Yutaka Nagare revealed the unusual custom as Japan gear up to take on Ireland in Shizuoka on Saturday.

"We sing the Backstreet Boys song as a group," said Nagare.

"We do it after training and meetings, just to get unified - it brings us together."

Half-back Nagare enjoyed his World Cup debut, stepping off the bench as Japan overwhelmed Russia 30-10 to open the first global battle in Asia.

The 27-year-old admitted, now he has had a taste of the competition, he only wants more of the same.

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"I only got a short game time but it was really my dream come true, something I really strived for," said Nagare.

"So I'm really pleased I made it and in front of a big crowd for the opening game.

"It really is a once in a lifetime competition. We never know if the World Cup will ever be back in Japan.

"It's hard to explain how we feel about that, except to say we know we've got to take our chance while it's here."

The Japanese public have thrown their support behind the home heroes just as much as they have proved fine and patient hosts with the hordes of foreign fans.

But, despite the clear feel-good factor for the hosts, scrum coach Shin Hasegawa admitted the pressure to return victories is mounting.

"Yes we've always felt the pressure, but since the World Cups started we've been going to different camps, different cities where World Cup events have been held," said Hasegawa.

"We've had 15,000 people turn up to one of our training sessions to support the team, and that means everything to us.

"At this World Cup the people of Japan are accommodating and helping all the people visiting from overseas too.

"For the prosperity of the Japanese team we really need to win to fulfil expectation, but we'd also like to enjoy that pressure."

PA

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