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Japan forwards coach Steve Borthwick praised the work ethic of the Brave Blossoms on Monday, saying their willingness to learn was key to their success at this Rugby World Cup.

“The players prepare really well,” the former England captain said at the team’s hotel.

“In my experience, compared to players elsewhere like England, the Japan players do a lot more video work. The players have their iPads and computers and they’re looking at footage all the time. It’s a great credit to the players.”

Borthwick gave particular praise to captain Michael Leitch and the leadership group within the squad.

“Great credit has to go to Michael Leitch. With him and the senior players, they’ve gradually taken on more responsibility. They’re driving the standards and they’re willing to address things when things are not right.

“And under pressure they’ve made great decisions. They’ve adapted, changed the game well. That leadership group has been communicating extremely well.”

In addition to studying hard, the players are working hard in the gym and the results are plain to see.

“Each week we’re going up against teams that are much taller than us, bigger than us,” Borthwick said. “Each time we’ve had to overcome that and they’ve done really well. Their work rate is outstanding and they’ve been tremendously physical.”

Further proof of the side’s willingness to study came from hooker Shota Horie, one of the senior members of the squad.

“We need to study closely how America scrums so we know what to expect,” he said referring to Sunday’s game against the U.S. Eagles in Gloucester.

“We kept it simple against Samoa, going back to what we do best, which is to outwork our opponents. We didn’t try to outsmart ourselves.

“It all comes down to preparation and how well we can stay focused for the game.”

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