8:40 am on 9 September 2011

Japan coach John Kirwan has set his players a target of winning two of their Rugby World Cup pool matches which would secure them automatic qualification for the 2015 tournament as the third ranked team.

The last time Kirwan was involved in a World Cup in New Zealand, he was one of the inaugural 1987 tournament's stars, helping the All Blacks lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

The All Blacks have reached the final only once since then and while Kirwan hopes they will win for a second time, he knows his team won't beat the home side or France, the other top tier team in Group A.

But he thinks Japan can beat Canada and Tonga and secure their most successful ever tournament after ending a run of 13 consecutive World Cup defeats with a 12-12 draw with Canada in France four years ago.

However, Kirwan also wants the Brave Blossoms' to be competitive in their first two matches against France on 10 September at North Harbour Stadium, then the All Blacks four days later in Hamilton.

He says his side is much more complete than four years ago.

Takeshi Kikutani is captain and Sione Vatuvei is the only player who did not feature in this year's successful Asian Five Nations and Pacific Nations Cup campaigns.

Backs James Arlidge, Murray Williams and Shaun Webb and forwards Luke Thompson and Michael Leitch are the New Zealand-born players in the squad's 10-strong foreign contingent.