FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) - Canada flyhalf Shane O’Leary would have felt some pangs of sympathy for his native Irish compatriots after they were upset by Japan but hoped his own side could do something similar against world champions New Zealand in Oita on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old was born and educated in Ireland but, with a Canadian mother, changed allegiance when he missed out on Ireland’s under-20 side. He has made 13 test appearances for the North Americans since his debut against Georgia in 2017.
“Japan were absolutely outstanding,” O’Leary said of the Brave Blossoms’ 19-12 Pool A victory at Shizuoka Stadium on Saturday.
“Following up from Uruguay beating Fiji the other day as well, especially Japan beating a team like Ireland after beating South Africa in the last World Cup, it’s amazing to see.
“You could see how much it went to the crowd. Even being around our hotel, it’s just amazing how happy everyone was.”
Canada face an even more daunting task against three-time world champions New Zealand in their Pool B clash in Oita on Wednesday, where few, if any, give them a chance of an upset.
The team also suffered a blow with centres Ben LeSage (hand) and Nick Blevins (broken jaw) ruled out of the rest of the World Cup. Theo Sauder and Guiseppe du Toit joined the squad as replacements on Sunday.
O’Leary, however, felt Japan’s show against Ireland and Uruguay’s victory over Fiji in Kamaishi earlier in the week could help his side lift their performance against the All Blacks.
“Just the hunger that they brought and how composed they were, it was amazing to see,” he said.
“It was a massive game for them and they put a brilliant performance out there and Ireland weren’t able to live with them.”
Fixing basic execution errors would also help, he said, especially after his side bombed a number of try-scoring chances in their 48-7 loss to Italy last Thursday in Fukuoka.
“We left a lot of points out there that would have made the game look a lot closer,” he said.
“We did create a lot as well so I think that we could have actually scored quite an amount of points. We were just missing those last two passes.
“We’re going to take the positives that we can from the game and hopefully bring it forward and build on the rest of our World Cup campaign.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Oita; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly