Former All Black Adam Thompson thinks Japan has what it takes to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

Having played rugby in Japan for the Canon Eagles for two years, Thompson told the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast that the national team had trained hard to achieve their surprise win over South Africa.

"They work so hard, they're probably the hardest working team I've seen - they train two times a day, they're up at 5 in the morning and they work really hard," he said. "This is not a win that's come out of the blue, it's something that they've been working towards for a long time."

When he had played against the Japanese team during the World 15 around a month ago, their performance was "pretty average", he said.

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"The breakdown in their set piece let them down and we really dominated in there and we didn't have a team like the Springboks so that was probably their wake-up call."

As well as a strict training roster, the team had benefited from a good balance of Japanase and foreign players, he said.


Thompson - Japan could reach quarter-finals

"It's all well and good having a team full of Japanese homegrown talent and building that, but you really do need those foreign guys that come from those established countries, not only to play well but to teach new guys coming through."

However, he said Thursday morning's game against Scotland could be different as the team had lost the element of surprise - but would also have gained a lot of confidence from the win over South Africa.

"They'll be full of confidence but the Scots will see it coming, so should be a good game."
With their improved performance in the scrum and the set piece, Thompson said he believed Japan could reach the quarter finals.

"When they can get away with that they can play to their strengths, they can move the ball, they can play to the intensity and pace and skill level and hopefully run around these big teams.

"What an occasion it'd be for the Japanese to get in to the knockout stage of the tournament - and with the World Cup being here in 2019 it's something that world rugby needs."

- nzherald.co.nz