By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – Having escaped Typhoon Hagibis for the beach resort of Miyazaki two weeks ago, England got a taste of Japanese weather on Friday when they trained in torrential rain brought by Typhoon Bualoi ahead of their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
The weather was so bad that it delayed the squad’s arrival at Yokohama Stadium – 30 miles from their hotel base in Tokyo’s Disneyland – then provided testing conditions for their last session of preparation.
Scrum coach Neil Hatley said they might review their travel plans for Saturday, when the forecast is for dry conditions, but that everything went smoothly on the sodden pitch. “We did everything – lineout, restarts, set piece, we’ve got everything done,” he said. “A lot of us are used to playing in those conditions.
“We’ve prepared for all conditions. When we had warm-weather training in Treviso and Miyazaki, we used wet balls to make sure that we were prepared for the conditions here.”
The Yokohama pitch came through Typhoon Hagibis in remarkably good condition when Japan played Scotland in their final pool game.
Fullback Elliot Daly said after several dry weeks, it was “quite fun to have a bit of a splash around.”
“It was pretty wet but not windy though, so not too bad,” he said. “We’ve not trained in that sort of rain for a while but I think the weather is supposed to be okay for tomorrow, so it was tricky today, but fine.”
Daly has yet to attempt one of his famed long-range penalties in the tournament but said he had been working on his technique just in case. “I’ve practised them all the time though I haven’t got one for a while,” he said. “But I’m always willing to take one if everything’s right.”
He said there was a really positive feeling through the squad as they approach crunch time after around three months together in various training camps.
“We’re just having fun on the pitch and hopefully that showed up in games,” Daly said.
“The good thing about last weekend is that we built really nicely towards the game and individually we got ourselves ready.
So if that’s taking yourself away or that’s doing something else, I think everyone in the team at the moment knows what they need to do to get to that level because we don’t let anybody down so we want to be ready, come what may at game time.”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 1700 local time (0800GMT).
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)