Japan’s stunning win has not altered Scotland’s plans

Japan celebrate victory over South Africa. Picture:  Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Japan celebrate victory over South Africa. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
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Japan may have left rugby fans across the globe stunned with their incredible victory over South Africa but Scotland stand-off Duncan Weir insists his team were not the least bit surprised by the World Cup upset.

The Cherry Blossoms blew Pool B wide open after Karne Hesketh’s last-gasp try handed them a 34-32 victory over the two-time champions – which has already been dubbed the biggest shock in the sport’s history.

Japan head coach Eddie Jones compared the clash to the biblical joust between David and Goliath ahead of the Brighton clash and that assessment proved correct as his side – whose last World Cup victory was in 1991 – slayed the star-studded Springboks.

However, while the Japanese support and neutral observers everywhere lapped up the result, it has not set alarm bells ringing in the Scottish camp.

The Dark Blues kick-off their tournament campaign on Wednesday against Japan in Gloucester and the fixture now takes on a whole new complexion following that historic win.

But Weir insists the Scots have always known about their opening opponents’ capabilities. The Glasgow playmaker said: “We have been talking as a group and we all understood that Japan are a growing nation and they have been playing some really good rugby. So it’s not really a surprise in our camp.

“The way they played and the intensity they brought to their attack and defence was outstanding. They probably caught the Springboks a wee bit surprised but they merited that victory because they put in a very good performance.

“So we’ll be taking them very seriously. The value of that first World Cup result is going to give the Japanese squad a massive boost rolling into their second game and our first.

“And we always knew this Japan game was going to be a huge test for us. Maybe people are now realising that. You should be wary of a team that beats the Springboks.”

Scotland have never lost to the Japanese. Their last meeting in 2013 saw Weir run in one of six tries as the Scots dished out a 42-17 drubbing.

And the 24-year-old Weir insists his confidence has not been dented by the sight of a side ranked 13th in the world – just three behind the Scots – taking down one of the favourites for the title.

“I believe in this squad,” he insisted. “I believe that we have the players here to go on and do very well in this tournament.

“If we do the things that Scotland do well, if we put our game plan into place and cause Japan some problems then I’m sure we can put them under pressure and score some points.

“We have some very talented outside backs and a very strong pack that can carry for us and win us set-piece ball cleanly.

“If we do all these things well I believe we have a very strong team.”