Returning Japan men's rugby head coach Eddie Jones provided glimpses Wednesday of what he is looking for after putting his players through their paces over two days in his first training camp.
The 64-year-old former England and Australia head coach returned in January to take charge of the Brave Blossoms, having left the post following the country's breakthrough 2015 World Cup, this time envisioning how "super-fast rugby" can raise them to the level of the world's elite teams.
"It was really enjoyable, young players coming in with a bit of enthusiasm, pushing some of the older players up," Jones said in Fukuoka. "We want to develop a new style of play, so there was a lot of learning for the players in the two days."
"This training camp is to get the concept across to players. We wanted to put in the concept of super-fast rugby, get an understanding of what is involved...and where we need to go."
Pointing out the high age of Japan's 2023 World Cup squad, Jones called up nine promising university players. He said he was "really impressed" by lock Chuka Ishibashi and scrumhalf Joji Takagi, both Kyoto Sangyo University freshmen.
"I think now the younger players, it's less telling them and more guiding them and giving them opportunities to solve solutions," he said. "But what hasn't changed is the standard you want in training...the standard you want is to be world-class."
The Australian coach's unrelenting, hard-nosed approach in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup contributed to Japan's historic win over South Africa in England.
The brief camp showed elements of a guiding-rather-than-telling approach. In Fukuoka, Jones yelled less, was more encouraging and frequently gave players 30-second respites to discuss matters among themselves in training.
"I think there's generational change as well," Jones said. "You go back 30 years and teaching was all about fear, discipline. All those things are still important now, but you're trying to instill those values in different ways because lots of these boys weren't brought up like (those) my age...more difficult conversations are held in private."
Jones said he will continue to demand quick preparation and decision-making from his players on the pitch in order to overcome Tier 1 nations, something Japan failed to manage at the World Cup in France last year against England and Argentina.
"It was more about the understanding. Super-fast rugby is not a style, it's a principle of play," he said. "What we're trying is to install a few principles of how we want to play and then it's up to the players to apply the principle to the game."
"What we need to see from the Japanese players is more quality actions. That will lift us from where we are now."