Michael Leitch has insisted Japan will not bow down to England or ex-coach Eddie Jones at Twickenham on Saturday.
Japan captain Leitch offered a deliberately cryptic response to Jones telling the Brave Blossoms to go to the temple and pray ahead of Saturday’s west London Test.
Leitch made the bold call for Jones’ Japan to kick a penalty to the corner that sparked the last-gasp try to stun South Africa 34-32 for the greatest shock in World Cup history in Brighton in 2015.
The back-rower hailed mentor Jones as one of the driving forces of his 57-cap career, but used an all-purpose Japanese phrase to provide an ambivalent response to the England boss’ words of warning.
“We have a saying in Japan: ‘sou desu ne’, which means ‘yes’ and that’s all I can say,” said Leitch, on Jones’ comments.
“So we don’t read into anything that’s been said in the media, we just focus on what we’re trying to do here.
“Coming up against England we’re obviously not going to go there and bow down, we are going to go out there and win it.”
Former Chiefs and current Sunwolves flanker Leitch left his native New Zealand for Japan aged 15, later becoming a citizen in his adopted home.
Hollywood is primed to make a glitzy movie out of Japan’s stunning triumph over South Africa in 2015, with Kiwi actor Temuera Morrison slated to play current England boss Jones.
Morrison played cult character ‘Jake The Muss’ in the classic Kiwi film ‘Once For Warriors’, and Leitch admitted there could be no better actor to play Jones.
The 30-year-old hailed Jones for transforming Japanese rugby, with the Brave Blossoms bidding to reach a maiden quarter-final when hosting next year’s World Cup.
“I’ve known Eddie since I was at university, so we have a great relationship,” said Leitch.
“He’s always been highly regarded, he started out in Japan back in 1998 or something like that.
“He’s coached Suntory, won championships there, and obviously coached Japan and changed the history of Japanese rugby. So he’s very highly regarded in Japan.
“Eddie has a big role to play in that movie. The great thing Eddie did with Japanese rugby, he changed the mindset.
“The national team always accepted losing, but once we changed that, he set us on the right track. Jake the Muss (Kiwi actor Temuera), they could not pick it better to play Eddie!”