Sean McMahon reporting from Yokohama.
Japan are up and running in Pool A after stuttering to a bonus-point 30-10 win over Russia at the Tokyo Stadium.
Both Joe Schmidt and Gregor Townsend would have watched on from the comfort of their respective team hotels and based on what they saw over the 80 minutes, they won’t be too concerned about their sides’ chances against this opposition.
Russia produced a brave performance but their ability at this level is well below what is required. Japan, on the other hand, seemed to wilt under the pressure of being the host nation. They made numerous unforced errors and were actually troubled by Russia’s kicking game – they will need to improve immensely before they meet Ireland or Scotland.
For Schmidt and Townsend, their focus is fully on Sunday’s clash at the Yokohama Stadium. The last two days have been warm and dry in Yokohama but that looks set to change on Sunday with rain currently forecast.
How that changes the rhythm and style of the game will be interesting, as will who deals with the conditions the best.
Schmidt, speaking at Ireland’s team announcement today, believes the kicking-game will be prove a majorly important factor, especially in wet conditions and he thinks Scotland have some good weapons in the shape of Greig Laidlaw, Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell to hurt his side.
“If Greig Laidlaw’s at scrum-half, he’s a very proficient kicker and very effective goal-kicker,” Schmidt said.
“When it does rain points become just that more valuable because they are harder to get because it’s harder to sustain that continuity of play.
“Therefore Greig Laidlaw could be very useful for them, and we know Finn Russell has a huge variety of kicking game, so he will be a threat and also Stuart Hogg has a very long kicking game.
“In the end when you match that up with us, with Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, I don’t think there’s too much between the teams.”
There are many different subplots to Sunday’s game between Ireland and Scotland, but whoever can win the aerial and kicking battle will go a long way to taking charge of Pool A.
New Zealand fly-half Richie Mo'unga has praised the role former coach Ronan O'Gara played in his development during the Cork… Read More
Brighton manager Graham Potter has warned that the club must protect Aaron Connolly following a whirlwind couple of weeks for… Read More
In choosing the top three players of the 2019 Rugby World Cup so far, it's difficult to pick out players… Read More
New Zealand will face off against Ireland in a mouth-watering Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash in Toyko on Saturday (kick-off… Read More
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt believes New Zealand will be "well aware" of how his side play when the teams… Read More