Jones ready to start second Japan coming v England

Eddie Jones has warned England they will be taken to the wire as Japan target a major upset in their clash in Tokyo.

Jones' second spell as Japan boss begins on Saturday at the National Stadium where he is facing the side he coached for seven years until he was sacked in December 2022 because of a slump in results.

Adding further intrigue is that for the first time he will be coming up against Steve Borthwick, his former number two with both the Brave Blossoms and England who succeeded him at Twickenham.

Japan are expected to be swept aside, but Jones is backing a young team that features four debutants including university fullback Yoshitaka Yazaki to defy expectations.

"We're really looking forward to this game," said the Australian, who has named veteran flanker Michael Leitch captain for the first official Test between the nations on Japanese soil.

"We know England are a strong side, they were top four at the World Cup and have got their traditional strengths of set-piece, kicking and kick chase. And they've developed line speed. What better start is there to see where we're at?

"Whatever we do in this game, we are going to take England right to the last moment.

"If we're good we'll win the game. If we're not good enough, we'll work out what we've got to do to get better. It's pretty simple."

England sprang a surprise by naming their team on Tuesday, 48 hours ahead of schedule, in an unprecedented break from tradition by Borthwick.

It has spared the tourists any potential selection mind games from Jones, rugby's arch-disruptor who was gracious about Borthwick when announcing his own side.

"For a young guy Steve is doing a great job. England's a high-pressure job. You get more scrutiny than any other job in the world and he's handled that pretty well," Jones said.

"He's reassembling that team, he's kept a number of the senior players but is starting to bring some young players through.

"It's a very good team. Excellent team. Great selections. Really pleased for their squad."

Mirroring his brief return to Australia that resulted in a group exit from last autumn's World Cup, Jones is investing in rookies with potential in his mission to rebuild Japan.

The most interesting of these is dynamic fullback Yazaki, a 20-year-old student at Waseda University who has played for the national U20 side but has yet to feature in a professional game.

"He was by far the best player in the recent Pacific Challenge. We brought him into camp and every time he has trained he's got better and better," Jones said.

"Yes he's young. He lives with 150 other students in a dormitory. He's not a great student at the moment, but he's a great student of rugby and has a fantastic future with Japan."