Scotland take no risks against Japan

Halfback Greig Laidlaw will captain a strong Scotland side seeking to avoid the becoming Japan’s latest conquest when they play in Gloucester on Wednesday.

Laidlaw will lead a side mixed with experienced players such as himself and younger ones – none of them used to much success on the pitch – as coach Vern Cotter seeks to get off to a winning start in their first game of the Pool B campaign.

The Scots are yet to lose to Japan in four meetings – their last match resulted in a 42-17 thrashing in November 2013 – but Japan’s thrilling 34-32 victory over two-time world champions South Africa has put everyone on guard.

The Brave Blossoms are not in the UK just to make up the numbers.

Indeed, Saturday’s win has moved Japan above Scotland in the world rankings

“We’ve prepared well for what will be a very tough test against a powerful and fit Japanese team, who like to play a high-tempo game,” said Cotter.

“They (Japan) will have taken a lot of confidence from their opening win over South Africa however that doesn’t change our approach to this game or the pool.”

The 53-year-old New Zealander, who has been in charge since May 2014, added: “The priority for us is to ensure that we get our jobs right with accuracy, and impose ourselves on the game.”

Laidlaw, who will win his 42nd cap at his club’s home ground, will be partnered at halfback by Finn Russell.

Wing Sean Lamon will win his 98th cap while in the scrum New Zealand-born flanker John Hardie, who was controversially included in Cotter’s squad rather than the experienced John Barclay, will start.

Hardie, 27, who qualified for Scotland through his Fife-born grandparents, only arrived on Scottish soil for the first time in July and has played less than an hour of Test rugby union.

Hardie is accompanied by another foreign-born player in the backrow, Zimbabwean No.8 David Denton.

Denton has a Scottish mother, although he has been part of the scene for much longer and will win his 29th cap.

Scotland team to play Japan:

Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt), David Denton, John Hardie, Ryan Wilson, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, William Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland.

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