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Russians plot Japan shock in WCup opener

Welshman Lyn Jones was appointed Russia head coach in August last year © AFP/File / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

TOKYO, Japan, Sep 18 – Russia coach Lyn Jones said on Wednesday he had a cunning plan to ambush hosts Japan in this week’s Rugby World Cup opener, revealing only that it involves a little mayhem.

The Russians, known as the Bears, will tower over their opposite numbers when they line up in Tokyo on Friday, but few people are giving them much chance of springing an upset against the world’s 10th-ranked side.

“With structured and organised sides like Japan you need to create chaos to get them to think for themselves,” Jones told AFP after naming a full-strength side led by his skipper Vasily Artemyev.

“I don’t know if they’re educated to do that, but it’s all theory anyway.

“We do have a plan,” added the former Wales international.

“We have got a formula and we think we can take Japan on and make life as difficult as possible for them.”

Russia gave Japan a fright the last times the teams met in November, the Brave Blossoms scraping a 32-27 victory in Gloucester.

“We just need to enter that last 20 minutes with everything to play for,” said Jones.

“Let’s be realistic — there’s probably a 20 percent of us winning the game,” he admitted ahead of the Pool A fixture.

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Jones pointed to wingers Kirill Golosnitskiy and German Davydov as potential match-winners for Russia if the Japanese fail to fire.

– ‘Fast and furious’ –

Vasily Artemyev will captain Russia eight years on from appearing at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand © AFP/File / Marty Melville

“They’re fantastic players and they know the way to the line,” the former flanker, who only took charge of Russia last year, said.

“But we appreciate the 10 years advantage Japan have over us and that they’re entering the game as firm favourites.

“We’ve fit four years of preparation into one year,” he added.

“We don’t know what to expect but we know it’s going to be fast and furious.”

Russia’s results have been a mixed bag in the build-up to their second World Cup appearance, and first since 2011, which included a record 85-15 pummelling by Italy.

“Look we’re not playing a different level — we’re playing a different sport,” shrugged Jones, whose side face further pool games against Ireland, Scotland and Samoa.

“The ball is the same shape, but it’s tier-one rugby and it’s something we don’t play very often.”

Artemyev, his country’s record try scorer, called on Russia to rise to the challenge.

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“Through the last week we’ve had an unprecedented amount of attention,” said the 32-year-old.

“It’s a bit unusual for our boys — we’re quite humble players and don’t get this exposure in Russia.

“But it’s going to be awesome and everyone is hugely motivated. We’ve put in the work and now we’re looking to get results.”

Russia (15-1)

Vasily Artemyev; German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov, Kirill Golosnitskiy; Yury Kushnarev, Vasily Dorofeev; Nikita Vavilin, Tagir Gadzhiev, Vitaly Zhivatov; Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Ostrikov; Kirill Gotovtsev, Stanislav Selskii, Valery Morozov

Replacements: Evgeny Matveev, Andrei Polivalov, Azamat Bitiev, Andrey Garbuzov, Anton Sychev, Dmitry Perov, Ramil Gaisin, Vladislav Sozonov

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