Scotland’s South African-born prop Willem Nel says he is not bent on avenging his compatriots shock World Cup defeat to Japan when he takes the field against the Brave Blossoms on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old – who through residency became available for the Scots in June this year – insists he is only thinking of one country when he confronts the Japanese in their Pool B clash in Gloucester.
Japan have lost all four of their meetings against Scotland.
But the manner of their 34-32 victory over the two-time World Cup winning Springboks last Saturday – the greatest shock in the tournament’s history – has made the whole of the rugby world sit up and take note.
“I don’t think there’s a score to settle,” said Nel.
“I’m playing for my awesome Scotland team so there’s no extra emotions.
“It’s just a game to win so we will just go out there and go head to head.”
Scotland assistant coach Matt Taylor said Japan moving above them in the world rankings on Monday made no difference – the Japanese are now 11th and the Scots 12th.
“From our point of view there are two even teams playing tomorrow and it will be the one that can execute and play the whole 80 minutes that will come out on top,” said Taylor.
“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for four years, and for the last six to eight weeks all our focus has been on Japan.
“It doesn’t put any extra pressure on us, we are just looking forward to the opportunity.”
The 43-year-old Australian added: “We are a group that will just focus on our own games to make sure the work over the last few years pays off.”
Taylor, defence coach of the Queensland Reds when they won the 2011 Super Rugby title, said the coaching staff had focused on players rather than the strategy of Japan’s inspirational coach Eddie Jones.
“When you look at a team you look at what they do well, what they’ve done in the past,” said Taylor.
“We’ve focused on their players, and their patterns.
“One of Cotter’s (Scotland coach Vern Cotter) mantras is that you’ve got to adapt to whatever you’re faced with, so that’s one of the key elements of this Scotland team.”
Nel sees the battle in the scrum as potentially decisive. This was an area where the Japanese had the Springboks extremely experienced pack on the back foot for much of the game.
“If you watch the game (against South Africa) there’s certain things that I think they come up with and, if you closely watch, I think Japan was better under pressure in the scrums,” said Nel.
“I don’t think they (South Africa) have the upper hand every time.
“We’ve closely looked at their scrums. We know what they’re doing and I think they know what we are doing, so I think tomorrow it’s going to be a nice battle out there.”