Michael Leitch (Gallo)
Gloucester - Michael Leitch and Ayuma
Goromaru can rubberstamp their sporting hero status by helping Japan claim
another famous World Cup scalp when they play Scotland on Wednesday.
Another amazing win would take Japan
tantalisingly close to their first ever World Cup quarter-final.
But in order to win "the most
important game in the World Cup", as coach Eddie Jones termed it, they
must work even harder than they did to beat two-time world champions South
Africa 34-32 on Saturday.
"We haven't just come here to make one
splash in the pond, we are here to play a World Cup and we want to make the
quarter-finals," said 55-year-old Jones ahead of the Pool B match.
"If the players aren't excited after
Saturday that would be a problem. They are excited."
Jones, who was cruelly denied the World Cup
on home turf in Sydney in 2003 as Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in the final
seconds of extra-time gave England the trophy, said his team need to get out of
the traps lightning fast on Wednesday in Gloucester and catch a Scottish side,
yet to play in the tournament, napping.
"The start will be super important, we
have to start early, but that can be hard after winning the previous
game," said Jones.
"To borrow a cricket analogy if you
score 100, when you come out in your next innings you have to work even
Jones, who will move on to coach South
African Super 18 side Western Stormers after the World Cup, kept faith with
over half of the starting XV from the South Africa clash. Captain Leitch will
take charge of the side for the 15th time moving him up to fourth on the
all-time list of Japanese skippers.
Leitch -- whose audacious decision to go
for the win rather than the draw in the final minute paid off handsomely
against the Springboks -- and Goromaru will be crucial to how the game pans out
for the 2019 World Cup hosts.
Goromaru, 29, contributed 24 points to
their total against the South Africans but also made telling observations to
his fellow players from his vantage point at fullback.
"He is the cornerstone of our
team," said prop Hiroshi Yamashita.
The Scots will fill the role of the screen
villain - as the 'Boks did on Saturday - for neutrals in the crowd.
However, the priority for coach Vern Cotter
and his players is to get off to a good start in a pool where four teams - Samoa and the Springboks being the others - realistically will be in
contention for the two quarter-final places.
The Scots have not lost to Japan in four
meetings but Cotter said there will be no chance of his side being caught out.
"There's no complacency
whatsoever," said Cotter.
"It's a humble group and certainly not
one that gets ahead of itself.
"It (Japan's win) has given us
something to focus on because they didn't just compete, they won. Everybody saw
the game so there has been an applied focus," added the 53-year-old New
Zealander, who has been in the post since May 2014 after a successful spell at
French club side Clermont.
For Jones, who is half Japanese through his
mother, said it was crucial that another headline grabbing result kept up the
momentum for the sport back home.
"Apparently rugby's on the news now,
which is unusual," said Jones.
"It's usually sumo and baseball but
the big guys have had to move out of the way now.
"It's fantastic for the sport going
forward. We want it to be a global sport, and an Asian country beating a top
tier country really makes it global."