Japan then went on to record 11 consecutive wins to help elevate their status to a top-ten side in the World Rugby rankings for the first time, before underlining their improved status with a 34-32 win over South Africa in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup. “We got the dates and we’re counting down”.
“We expect them to be just as ferocious, just as driven and well-organised against us”.
“We’ve studied footage of the games they’ve played over the a year ago or so”.
“The boring answer is that we’ve not looked any further than the Japan game”, said Hogg. We had a very close encounter with them in the United States so we know we can’t take them lightly.
“There is a lot of eagerness out there for us to start well, it’s our first game in the World Cup and we’re looking forward to it”. Watching them perform was gave me a little bit less sleep that night.
The South African-born Josh Strauss, who only qualified for Scotland through residency rules last week, could make his Test debut off the bench.
Cotter has named 12 World Cup debutants in his starting side, including Gloucester star Greig Laidlaw who will continue as captain.
Meanwhile Japan have made six changes for their second encounter in Group B. Props Keita Inagaki and Hiroshi Yamashita come off the bench to start in place of Masatake Mikami and Kensuke Hatakeyama.
“South Africa weren’t as accurate as they’d have wanted to be, but Japan certainly didn’t surprise me”.
“I’ve got a lot of my caps from being at the right place at the right time, but I think when you reach 50 you’ve done enough for the team over the years to earn it”.
But, clearly, Scotland are the likeliest runner-ups in Pool B – South Africa are as short as 1/16 to win it, even if they would probably rather not, given the draw, and that is something you have to bear in mind as the pool plays out – and that would enable them to play England or Australia in the quarters at Twickenham, and Ireland or France/Argentina in the semis.
I think there has to be some form of common sense in play here.
Tournament organisers have also banned large flags, oversized hats and other noisemakers such as the vuvuzelas – a plastic horn that was prominent during South Africa’s football World Cup in 2010. “They do well at surprising teams and I’m sure they have a few things prepared for us”.
Japan will not be relying on their physicality but their pace will be something they attempt to utilise.
So while nobody could claim the Mystic Meg qualities that would have allowed them to spot the result coming, nobody was particularly surprised by what they saw in the Japanese performance.
He told the News: “It was great to find out I’d made the squad because I felt I had some unfinished business after the last World Cup and how it unfolded for us, so it would be good to make up for that”.