George Horne was one of the crestfallen Scots at the end two years ago in Yokohama – but everything’s moved on in 2021 and there are no scores to settle.
Scotland’s last game against Japan before Saturday’s was in that final pool game of the Rugby World Cup, when the Brave Blossoms won 28-21. But that match hasn’t been the subject of any discussion in the Scotland camp.
‘The World Cup has not been mentioned’
“I mean we want to win, which is righting a wrong, I guess,” said the former Howe of Fife player. “But losing to them at the World Cup has not been mentioned.
“We’re a completely different team now. We’ve developed our game a lot in the last couple of years and now we’re up there as one of the best teams in the world defensively. So hopefully we can put them under a lot of pressure and not let them play their offloading, expansive game.
“We kind of know what’s coming. They’ve got a fairly similar team, but both teams are a lot different still. It’s not going to be anything like 2019, hopefully.”
The Scots are definitely a different team defensively to two years ago, and the way Japan like to play arguably suits the hosts – and Horne – more than it did two years ago.
“A fast-paced, high tempo game suits me personally,” he said. “I think it’s also what Scotland are trying to play, attack at speed and take the space whether that is wide through the middle.
“It suits us, but we know the challenge we are going to face. Japan a really good at what they do.
“I think we will go into the game confident. We feel as if we play our best rugby we can match any team in the world.
“But that doesn’t mean we are underestimating Japan. Obviously the result a couple of years ago shows you that they are a very good team and we are going to have to be at our best to beat them.”
A rare chance to start?
After Ali Price started the first three tests of the Autumn, it seems Horne is likely to get his first start since the World Cup – when he scored a hat-trick against Russia in Shizuoka.
“Maybe I should remind Gregor of that,” he joked. “I would love to start every game but I understand that as a nine often the role is to come off the bench. I want to get on and score as many tries as possible, that would be nice.
“On Saturday when I got on we were quite far behind, so we knew we had to roll the dice a bit and try and score a couple of tries, which is not easy against South Africa.
“It’s quite tough when you know you’re not getting much game time. But you know you’ve still got a big role to play. Against Australia in the last ten minutes, it was just being accurate in what we were doing and closing the game out.
“It was a different scenario at the weekend coming from behind. It was a case of just trying to play at tempo, trying to up the speed and put them under pressure.”