Wales lock Andrew Coombs sees confidence grow in Japan

JAPAN v WALES

Venues:
Chichibunomiya Stadium, Tokyo
Dates:
15 June, 2013
Kick-offs:
06:00 BST
Coverage:
Live on S4C, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Wales & BBC online

It is easy to see why the Welsh squad chose to take the Bullet Train from Osaka to Tokyo.

A distance of 320 miles covered in under two-and-a-half hours, extended leg room and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji.

In any other country the players would have flown, but such is the comfort and efficiency of Japan's most iconic mode of transport that there's no other logical choice.

The train is hardly ever late, and when a delay happens the passengers are handed notes which they can show to their employers.

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Wales battle to tense win in Japan

Our conductor hands us a piece of paper with precise time slots of when Mount Fuji is at its most visible, however Newport Gwent Dragon Andrew Coombs looks a little flustered.

"I was watching a film and almost missed it. Lou Reed gave me a knock, and it's great.

"You get to see Japan at a different level. It's better than being up in the sky."

Even on the other side of the world, the life of a modern sportsman is hardly the most glamorous with hotel lobbies and airport lounges the default backdrop but Coombs and his fellow players have made the most of the time in the

"It's a great opportunity for us to see Japan, the people here can't do enough for you," he says.

The air conditioning on the Bullet Train, like every aspect of Japanese society works efficiently and unassumingly with the gentle hum offering solace from the stiflingly sticky Japanese heat.

Wales take the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo
Wales take the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo

Conditions that proved a real challenge for the first test in Osaka which Wales eventually won 22-18.

"It was tough with the temperature at around 30 degrees Celsius," says Coombs.

"Japan had a lot of the ball so we were chasing them a lot."

Behind for the majority of the match Wales were forced to dig deep to maintain the 100 percent record against Japan. The narrowness of the victory might have come as a surprise to the layman but not to the squad according to Coombs.

"They're going to be very confident for the second Test," he says.

"We're a new group, we haven't played together before and Japan have had a few games in the last few weeks."

When Wales faced New Zealand in the autumn their starting 15 averaged almost 50 international caps, but with almost 30 players missing the side that took the field on Saturday was the most inexperienced since the game turned professional with only a 100 appearances between them and 7 making their débuts.

Despite being 28 Coombs is a toddler in international terms having only made his debut against Ireland in 2013's Six Nations opener.

He's convinced, however, that having got their first games out of the way, the new boys are already better equipped ahead of Saturday's second test in Tokyo.

"You're a lot more confident, you're not so uptight and you can relax into your role and bring a lot more to the game.

"It's difficult coming in at such a young age as there's a lot on their shoulders."

Precisely two hours, 21 minutes after the bullet train left Osaka, it gently pulls into platform 23 of Tokyo's central station.

A population that is larger than Wales' passes through the station's electronic gates each day as the cogs of one of the world's largest metropolises runs effortlessly.

Wales players are now there aware that while there were some early glitches in Osaka, their engine is starting to move along the right track.

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