Rugby World Cup 2019: Stephen Donald backing Japan for tournament success

All Blacks World Cup winner Stephen 'Beaver' Donald is backing Japan to spring a few surprises at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. 

Japan, who are ranked 10th in the world, must face Ireland, Scotland, Samoa and Russia during pool play, and will likely have to win three of those matches to reach the next round. 

Japan won the recent Pacific Nations Cup, beating Fiji, Tonga and the USA comprehensively, but were flogged by South Africa 41-7 in their final warm-up match.

Despite that, Donald, who famously helped the All Blacks win the 2011 World Cup, backs Japan to defy the odds in their home tournament, 

"I was more confident with my picks until I watched them lose to South Africa last week," he told The AM Show. 

"But I'm picking them to beat Ireland and Scotland, but they lose to Samoa."

At the TAB, Japan are massive outsiders against Ireland and Scotland, but are favourites against Samoa. The host nation are also outsiders to reach the quarter-finals. 

Donald has predicted the All Blacks to win their third straight World Cup and South Africa as their biggest challenge. 

Newshub presenter Mike McRoberts was also controversially backing Japan to upset Scotland. 

They meet in their final pool game and depending how they go in their earlier pool matches, the winners of that game could qualify for the quarter-finals. 

Scotland have never lost to Japan in seven previous tests, including at the last Rugby World Cup, where the Scots won 45-10. 

"Japan has a good team and they're my pick for the upset of the tournament," he said on The AM Show. 

"They dominated the Pacific Nations Cup recently and I think they're good enough to beat Scotland. 

"If they beat them - and we beat South Africa - we could play them in the quarter-finals." 

At the last World Cup, Japan won three of their four pool games, but fell short of the playoffs on bonus points.

While Donald and McRoberts have made some bold predictions, two octopuses have predicted that Japan's only win in the tournament would come against Ireland. 

Last year, an octopus named Rabiot correctly predicted the outcome of all three of Japan's matches at the Football World Cup.


Join us at 9:45pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v South Africa World Cup clash

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.