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Japan captain Michael Leitch believes that the host nation’s remarkable improvement over the past few years marks them out as potential tournament winners.
New Zealand-born Leitch, who moved to Japan aged 15, has captained the Japanese side for the past five years and believes he has seen a remarkable turnaround in that time.
A try scorer in Japan's shock win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup, he believes that the Pacific Nations Cup holders have what it takes to handle the pressure that comes with being the host nation and could even go all the way to glory.
"I love pressure," he said. "It almost gets to the point where you are a pressure junkie where you want to be pressured."
"I think you need to be very brave in what you say; we want to make the quarter-finals but ideally, we want to win the World Cup.
"That is an outrageous statement but it changes your whole behaviour: if you want to make the quarter-finals compared to if you want to win the World Cup it changes your behaviour.
"So I guess we are going to have to try and win the World Cup and see how far we can get.
"The only reason we would ever lose a match would be because we couldn't execute what we aimed to do.
“I don't imagine us losing because the opponent is stronger than us."
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