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France ready to take to skies against Japan in rugby Test

TOKYO (AFP) – France captain Charles Ollivon said yesterday that the Six Nations champions are ready for an aerial assault when they take on Japan in the second Test in Tokyo today.

France won the first Test 42-23 in Toyota last week, but Japan are ready to take to the skies after bringing towering locks Warner Dearns and Sanaila Waqa into the starting line-up.

Both players stand over two metres (six feet, seven inches) tall, but Ollivon believes France can cope as they look to win their 10th straight Test match at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

“They will have more height, but they will also have more speed,” said Ollivon, who made his international return in last week’s game after a long injury lay-off.

“We did well in the line-out last week and they will try to counter us. We are ready to compete even if it will be tougher than before. It’s up to us to respond.”

France pulled away from a spirited Japan with four second-half tries last week after being held 13-13 at the interval.

France’s national rugby Charles Ollivon and Swan Rebbadj attend a practice session in Urayasu. PHOTO: AFP

Head coach Fabien Galthie has brought an inexperienced squad to Japan, and Ollivon said motivation would not be a problem as they tried to improve on last week’s performance.

“The whole team, the whole staff, we all want to do better than we did last week,” he said.

“We must do better in a lot of areas. We have prepared seriously and we want to go further, higher and faster in our play.”

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has also named an inexperienced side as he looks to blood new players ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Half-backs Naoto Saito and Seungshin Lee have only nine caps between them, with fly-half Lee making only his third appearance at the age of 21.

Saito, who missed last week’s game after testing positive for COVID, said “communication” would be crucial.

“I don’t really think of myself as being someone with experience,” said the 24-year-old Saito.

“I’m aware that I have to step up and lead more than I have done before. Over the week we’ve been watching video together and identifying how we should play in certain situations.”