Japan’s Uwe Helu: ‘I think they will look down on us, that’s for sure’

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Uwe Helu during a Japan Rugby press conference in Hamamatsu, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Uwe Helu spoke in sentences so short that you suspected he was being charged by the word.

That didn’t matter when the ones he did deign to share were so interesting. The Japanese lock was a handful of minutes at the top table for his team’s media conference in Hamamatsu on Monday all told. More than enough time to drop a few depth charges into the water.

There was a mischievous glint in his eye and a wry smile as he spoke at times, no more so than when he was asked if, with everyone predicting and Ireland/South Africa quarter-final, Joe Schmidt’s side might take their eye off the ball when they face the hosts this Saturday.

“I think they will look down on us, that’s for sure,” said the 29-year old. “And we’ll do everything when we get our chance.”

Helu watched Ireland’s defeat of Scotland but his first take when asked to share an opinion on it was to suggest that Japan would be able to avail of some “opportunities” in Shizuoka when they face the Six Nations side. Like what, exactly?

“Should I tell you? No, like when they defend they get quite close to each other…”

Helu, like everyone else in the Japan squad, will swear blind that the pressure they felt against Russia in the tournament opener is out of their system now and that all the pressure sits on an Irish side for whom a place in the last eight most now take for granted.

Japan have eight days to prepare as opposed to Ireland’s six but it’s not disrespectful to suggest that they would be better served targeting their final pool game, against the Scots, than going gung-ho for Ireland.

Not an option, apparently.

“Every game for us is a final so we’ll give everything,” said Helu. “We’re hosting the World Cup. There’s nothing for us to leave behind so I think every game we have to give everything.”

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