If the pre-match blows count for anything – and they shouldn’t – Japan are already ahead of Scotland.
Eddie Jones and his entourage swept into Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium and the Australian simply took over the premises. As the Japanese followed the Scots through their final team run and media duties at Kingsholm, Jones came in smiling and winning what few neutral hearts are not already with the Brave Blossoms.
Some of it was pure bluster Jones suggested that even though the Scots were coming in “100 per cent” for today’s Rugby World Cup clash and his side just four days after their gargantuan physical effort to beat South Africa, that his team would be the fitter in the last quarter.
He re-iterated that if the Scots were not in charge of the game after half an hour, their history suggested they were there for the taking and his team would take them.
“If you look at Scotland’s scoring profile they are very heavily a first half team,” he said. “They get outscored consistently in the second half.
“We know we are a fit team so if we can stick with them in the first 30 minutes and we are in the game at half time, we will run them off their feet.”
“Are we fitter? Definitely.”
Were Japan, now ranked above Scotland, actually favourites for this game, Eddie?
“Are we favourites? Well if you read most of the papers we’re not.
“People still think it was a fluke that we beat South Africa, so this is a great chance for us to show it wasn’t and really front up as a serious rugby nation.
“Scotland are coming into it with perfect preparation. They have had two-and-a-half weeks since their last game. They will come in absolutely 100 per cent.
“We’re coming in off a four day turnaround so whether that makes us favourites or not, I’m not sure.”
Eddie clearly wants the stands and the famous Shed at Kingsholm on his side as well.
“We respect Scotland greatly. They’ve improved a lot under Vern Cotter. He’s got them back to a more Scottish way of playing, so we know it’s going to be a very tough game.
“Gloucester is one of the great spiritual homes of rugby, isn’t it? People here know their rugby, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of support from the local crowd.
“They normally wear red and white, so they can wear red and white tomorrow and support us. And we know the English don’t like the Scottish, so that’s another bonus for us.”
The pressure was all on Scotland, he stressed.
“Last Saturday’s game suggested the order of world rugby could change,” he said. “Scotland’s one of the great established nations of world rugby and for Japan to challenge Scotland, it suggests all the pressure is on Scotland.
“It means we can go in there free and easy, play our rugby and enjoy the game. Somebody said that pressure’s what you get when you don’t know what you’re doing. We know what we’re doing.”