Rugby: All Blacks could suffer historic loss to Japan on northern tour, warns commentator Joe Wheeler

After historic wins for Ireland and Argentina on NZ soil, Japan's 'Brave Blossoms' may be the next side to inflict a first loss on the All Blacks, warns commentator Joe Wheeler.

So far in 2022, the national side have suffered maiden home defeats to the Irish and Pumas, with the former also picking up their maiden series win in the process, but there may still be more to come for a team that's battled for consistency.

At the end of October, New Zealand face Japan at Tokyo's National Stadium, as the first match of their end-of-year tour.

Ofa Tuungafasi against Japan (2018).
Ofa Tuungafasi against Japan (2018). Photo credit: Image - Photosport

With tests against England, Scotland and Wales scheduled, the Japan stopover looms as one for the All Blacks to experiment, with players like Stephen Perofeta and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tipped for rare minutes, after struggling to break into Foster's first-choice plans.

For Wheeler, who played five seasons in the Japanese Top League with Suntory Sungoliath, the clash could be a banana peel to slip on before heading to Europe.

"The Japanese test is the obvious one, the first test on the end-of-year tour," the former Highlanders lock told Sky Sport's Breakdown.

"That's nervewracking for me as well. This Japanese team, I know for a fact they've been preparing themselves all year for this one test match.

"They've had two test matches against France in the lead-up, they've had two test matches against Australia 'A' in the last two weeks.

Angus Ta'avao and Dalton Papali'i against Japan (2018).
Angus Ta'avao and Dalton Papali'i against Japan (2018). Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"They are priming themselves to have a real crack at the All Blacks, with the expectation they're going to play their supposed 'B' team.

"They're thinking, 'This is our one chance to knock over the All Blacks and create a bit of history for the Japanese'.

"We know, after what they did in the 2019 World Cup, they're not a walkover like they used to be."

Japan have proven to be one of world rugby's biggest giantkillers in recent memory.

At the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, Eddie Jones' side stole a 34-32 victory over South Africa in a match dubbed 'The Miracle of Brighton'.

Four years later, at the 2019 World Cup, Japan defeated Ireland 19-12 and Scotland 28-21 en route to their first quarter-final appearance, before losing to eventual winners South Africa.

The All Blacks have met Japan four times in test rugby, winning all four and scoring 351 points for and conceding just 61.

In their last meeting, a significantly weakened All Blacks side defeated the home side 69-31 at Tokyo, with eight players making test debuts.

Join Newshub on October 29 for live updates of the All Blacks v Japan test