"Finishing the Season Strong" - Prematch Review

Amidst the radiant sunshine on May 3rd, preparations were underway for round 13 against Black Rams Tokyo. Today marked the last training session of the season, as the day before the match will be a players-driven captain’s run. A group photo was taken with all the players and staff to conclude the year. Captain Kazuki Himeno, and Taichi Takahashi who is aiming for the top try-scorer title, attended the pre-match press conference.

In the previous match against the Eagles, a dramatic comeback victory was achieved. Captain Himeno mentioned, "Winning the game like that boosted our confidence, but if we drop the next one, there won't be any growth for the team. We’re aiming for a strong finish," firmly declaring the team's intent.

Takahashi is currently chasing for the top try-scorer title with a two-try difference, Himeno praised his performance thus far and mentioned, “Amid the team's inconsistent results, he has consistently played well. We want to create situations where he can score.” Takahashi's pursuit of his first title is serving as further motivation for the team.

With the game against the Black Rams on the 5th, the team will conclude its activities for this season. This also means it’s the last involvement with the team for all the retirements and transfers. Takahashi added, “Farewells are inevitable, but it means new encounters too. Their contributions will remain in the team as a legacy. We will miss people, but it’s important to move forward.” Takahashi, who scored the winning try in the Eagles match, expressed, "The response from around was not as much as I thought. Just a few text messages, maybe (laughs)."

Last season, he scored 10 tries in 16 starting appearances, and this season, with 13 appearances since the 3rd round, he has scored 13 tries, indicating an acceleration in his performance. When asked about the reason for his success, he explained, “I’m consciously trying to improve and make better decisions with each game. I guess that's working out well." 

Since the 9th round, he has been playing as a fullback.” Unlike when I was a winger, I had to think about decision-making while playing. It's enjoyable as I get more ball in hand." His teammates are also supportive in his pursuit of the top try-scorer title. “Ryusei Kato (Hooker) said, 'Come join us in the maul,' but I'm hesitating because it seems difficult to place the ball correctly (laughs)." Of course, Takahashi emphasizes, "The tries were not just scored by me alone, it’s an outcome of teamwork,” highlighting the team's collective effort.

The Black Rams game will also mark Beauden Barrett's last game in Japan. Takahashi expressed,  “I want to enjoy feeling his presence on the field playing together until the last minute.” It will be the team's first game at the Chichibunomiya Stadium this season. They aim for victory and to send off Barrett with smiles, along with Takahashi's pursuit of the top try-scorer title.




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