Asian Five Nations
Jones' Japan gunning for Asian glory
March 19, 2012
Japan will be gunning for a fifth Asian Five Nations title when the tournament gets underway at the end of April, with former Australia boss Eddie Jones now calling the shots.
Jones accepted the reins of the national side in December - following the departure of former All Black John Kirwan - and will begin building for the Rugby World Cup in 2015 against Kazakhstan on April 28.
Jones signed off from Japanese club rugby last weekend by guiding Suntory to a 21-9 victory over Panasonic Wild Knights in the All-Japan Final, securing a league and cup double in the process.
The 52-year-old will bring a young, home-grown squad forward for the tournament - where they will face a fast-improving Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Korea. Flanker Michael Leitch - a New Zealander - is the sole overseas-born player on Jones' 30-man panel.
"It's a very exciting squad, lots of good young players, and really good experienced players," Jones told AAP. "There's no distinction between foreign and Japanese players. It's about picking the best players who can play the sort of rugby that, we think, can get us into the top 10 in the world."
The side finishing bottom in Division One will be relegated, with Sri Lanka, Singapore, the Philippines and Chinede Taipei set to contest Division Two in 2012.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry