Japan lock Uwe Helu believes all the pressure will be on Ireland as they prepare to face off in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup next weekend.
Joe Schmidt’s side will be full of confidence heading into the clash given their impressive 27-3 win over Scotland last Sunday.
Despite losing Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki to injury early on in the game, Ireland put four tries past Gregor Townsend’s side in a much-improved performance, handing them the advantage in the group.
Should Ireland top the pool as expected, they will set up a potential quarter-final clash with South Africa, however, they have fixtures against Japan, Russia and Samoa coming up first.
Helu believes that the weight of expectation will be on Ireland and that will put the side under pressure.
“They’ll be looking down on us, that’s for sure, and we do everything when we get our chance. Everyone will expect Ireland to win… so all the pressure will be on them and we’ll be looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka was impressed with how Ireland managed their play during the difficult conditions in Yokohama at the weekend.
The 34-year-old maintains that the host nation have made major strides in recent times and could catch Ireland by surprise.
“It was only soon after Jamie (Joseph) took over and we were just listening to coaching staff what to do. Now we are more player-centred around (captain Michael) Leitch and each of us knows the role.
“I think we’ve elevated our levels more than Ireland have in that time and so hope to show how much gap we’ve closed.”
Kick-off in Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Saturday is 8.15am Irish time (4.15pm local time).
Both O’Mahony and Aki are “on track” to be fit for the clash having completed HIA two post-game while they are expected to complete HIA three later today.