Jamie Joseph believes his Japan side deserve more credit than they have so far received for their Rugby World Cup exploits.
Japan currently sit atop Pool A with three wins from three test matches, however, their final group game against Scotland is under threat due to the impending Typhoon Hagabis.
If the game was to be cancelled (like two others have been) then Japan would qualify for the quarter-finals. Joseph admitted today, though, that he feels the media reports have undermined Japan’s achievements.
“In the past few days, through the media reports that I’ve read, I feel they undermine the achievements of the Japanese national team. We’ve played and won three test matches and put us in the best position.
“I’d like to remind everybody it hasn’t been a fluke (but) a lot of hard work. We’ve been in the camp for 240 days this year alone.”
“The majority of our players are professionals in their companies, we’re an amateur rugby team. What that means is the players who play for Japan don’t get paid, or 100 dollars a day.
“You guys do the maths and make the comparison to the other teams. Everyone in our squad – players and staff – wants to play the match (against Scotland). We’re doing all right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world.
“So what is important for us is waking up on Monday morning and understanding we’re a worthy top-eight team or we’re not.
“The key difference between us and Scotland is we’re driven by the support of the whole country. My team is motivated by achieving something great, not avoiding embarrassment.
Joseph admitted that Sunday’s game with Scotland represents the most significant match in the country’s history.
Not only are Japan in a position to qualify for a first-ever World Cup quarter-final but they are also in line to finish top of Pool A. They’ve also never beaten Scotland before. It could be a great weekend of firsts for Japan.
Beating both Scotland and Ireland in a World Cup would represent a quantum leap forward for Japanese rugby.
“This will be the most significant match and that’s because we’re in a position we’re now top of the table and we’ve got the opportunity to win the pool. If we win on Sunday we go out confidently to the quarter-finals – that’s never ever happened before.
“We know they (Scotland) are a very good rugby team, very experienced, they got a lot of X-factor. It’s a team that Japan’s never beaten before.
“So lots of firsts this weekend: the first chance we have to make the top eight, the first chance to beat Scotland.
“When you haven’t done something before it becomes hugely motivating, exciting and challenging for the team. How we play the game is going to change now because the typhoon is coming.
“What we’ll be expecting from more-experienced Scottish team is aerial pressure and big physical presence around the maul, those sorts of areas and we’ll probably do the same if we had those sorts of players but we don’t so we have to stick to what we do well, and you’ll have to wait and see it on Sunday what it looks like.”