x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE backed to beat the drop in the Asian Five Nations

Eddie Jones, the Japan coach, said he would be "very surprised" if the UAE do not win their relegation decider against Kazakhstan on Friday.

The UAE have been backed to avoid relegation by Eddie Jones, the Japan coach.
The UAE have been backed to avoid relegation by Eddie Jones, the Japan coach.

Eddie Jones, the Japan coach, expects the UAE to retain their place in the top flight of Asian rugby, saying he would be "very surprised" if they do not win their relegation decider against Kazakhstan on Friday.

The former Australia coach watched his Japan side, which he has overhauled since assuming control from John Kirwan this year, beat the national team by 103 points in Fukuoka on Saturday. A second landslide defeat in the space of eight days means the UAE would almost certainly be demoted from the top division of the Asian Five Nations if they fail to beat the Kazakhs at The Sevens.

In the aftermath of the match in Fukuoka, Duncan Hall, the UAE performance manager, picked the mind of Jones, his former teammate, as to what to expect from Kazakhstan.

Jones is well placed to assess the relative merits of the two sides. In his first official engagement with Japan, his men beat the side from the former Soviet state 87-0 on the opening weekend of the competition.

And he insists Hall, whom he played state level rugby with in Australia during the 1980s, has reasons for optimism ahead of Friday's make or break game.

"They [UAE] are a big chance of beating Kazakhstan," said Jones, who guided the Wallabies to the World Cup final in 2003. "I would be very surprised if they don't beat them. I think they showed a lot of will and a lot of character against us. We had some extra class because we had professionals playing against amateur players, but if they show the sort of attitude they did they will be a chance of winning."

Hall ran his side through a morning training session in Fukuoka yesterday before boarding the return flight last night.

The UAE's Five Nations campaign concludes with an away fixture in South Korea on May 26.

pradley@thenational.ae

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