While Japan marked 50 days to go until the Rugby World Cup on Thursday, members of the national team said they are more focused on taking things one match at a time as they prepare for the sport’s showpiece event on home soil.
Center Ryoto Nakamura said he is trying not to think too much about the World Cup, which opens Sept. 20.
“I feel like I was just told there was 100 days to go during our training camp in Miyazaki (in June),” said Nakamura, who has played 17 times for his country. “Now that it’s 50 days, I feel like we have little time remaining.”
“But the thing is, I try not to think too much about what is coming up. I just want to focus on each and every day.”
The ninth edition of the World Cup will involve 20 teams playing 48 matches across 12 venues from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the south.
World Rugby said earlier in the day that Japan is ahead in its preparation to host Asia’s first tournament, with more than 80 percent of the tickets already sold amid unprecedented global demand.
New Zealand are aiming for their third straight title and fourth overall, while Australia are gunning for their third title after finishing runners-up in 2015.
Following their 34-21 win over Fiji last weekend, the Brave Blossoms only have three tests before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Russia in the tournament opener at Tokyo Stadium.
Their match on Saturday against Tonga at the Pacific Nations Cup will give the side a much-needed opportunity to build on their preparations.
Captain Michael Leitch, who returned from injury last week, said Japan has to step up and improve with the little time remaining.
“We have three more matches so we need to level up,” he said. “We have to brush up our mental and physical aspects of the game, in addition to being able to take control of the flow of the match.”
Japan will face the United States in their final match at the ongoing Pacific Nations Cup on Aug. 10, before playing their final test match on Sept. 6 against South Africa in Kumagaya, one of the World Cup venues.