Japan coach Eddie Jones says his giant-killers are ready to run Scotland “off their feet” in their World Cup clash on Wednesday because they’re the fitter side.
Jones insists Japan, who beat South Africa in the biggest upset in World Cup history on Saturday, are ready to prove the feat was “no fluke.”
Scotland have won all of the previous four games between the two nations.
But the Australian master tactician said research had shown the Pool B rivals, who will be playing their first game in the tournament, get all their points in the first half.
Scotland “get outscored consistently in the second half”, Jones said.
“We know we are a fit team. If we can stick with them in the first 30 minutes and stay in the game until half time then we will win the game because we will run them off their feet.”
Japan will have only four days between their two matches. But asked if the Brave Blossoms are fitter than Scotland, he answered: “Definitely. Definitely.”
Jones has made six changes to the team that started the amazing game in Brighton and beat the two-time world champions 34-32.
“Physically we are pretty good. Obviously there’s a few knocks and bruises as you do when you play the Springboks,” said the 55-year-old coach.
Mentally, the team are “a little bit tired”.
“When you’ve played a big game it is always hard to come down. I think their focus is pretty good. We had a pretty good meeting today. Their minds seem to be ok. But we will see tomorrow.”
Jones said Japan – who play in red and white – will need local support in Gloucester to prove they deserve their new higher standing in the rugby pecking order.
“Gloucester is one of the great spiritual homes of rugby, isn’t it? People in Gloucester know their rugby so hopefully we will get a lot of support from the local crowd.
“They normally wear red and white so they can wear red and white tomorrow to support us. And we know the English don’t like the Scottish so that’s another bonus for us.”
Japan have leapfrogged Scotland to take 11th place in the world rankings.
But Jones said there would be no favourite when the game starts at Gloucester’s 16,500 capacity Kingsholm stadium.
“People still think it was a fluke that we beat South Africa. So this is a great chance for us to show that it wasn’t and we can really front up as a serious rugby nation.”
Jones said “significant” pressure is now on Scotland because they are “one of the most established rugby countries in the world”.
With their Springbok win churning up a groundswell of emotional support for Japan, there will be international attention on Wednesday’s game.
But Scotland’s assistant coach Matt Taylor said Jones was wrong if he thought the pressure was on the Scots.
“That’s something that he believes in. I suppose everyone has opinions on how games go. But usually by the end of the 80 minutes the team that is ahead wins the game – rather than who’s ahead after 30 minutes.”
Taylor did bemoan a ban on bagpipes in the stadium for safety reasons.
“I love hearing the bagpipes. I’m not Scottish but my parents are and I love having them involved so it is a little disappointing. At the end of the day that’s the rules and we have to get on with it.”
JAPAN: Ayumu Goromaru, Kotaro Matsushima, Male Sa’u, Yu Tamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Harumichi Tatekawa, Fumiaki Tanaka, Amanaki Mafi, Michael Broadhurst, Michael Leitch (capt), Justin Ives, Luke Thompson, Hiroshi Yamashita, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Reserves: Takeshi Kizu, Masataka Mikami, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shinya Makabe, Shoji Ito, Hendrik Tui, Atsushi Hiwasa, Karne Hesketh.
SCOTLAND: 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, Willem Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson. Reserves: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland.