Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist believes Japan’s surprise slaying of South Africa has changed the dynamic of Rugby World Cup Pool B and altered the mindset of teams vying to make the quarter-finals.
Japan’s 34-32 success over the two-time tournament winners has been dubbed the biggest shock in World Cup history and ended the Brave Blossoms’ 24-year wait since their last victory at a finals.
“It’s blown it wide open. It changes the dynamic of the group. Looking from the outside you’d have expected South Africa to have won their first two games before facing us,” said Edinburgh forward Gilchrist.
“But even the likes of Samoa, now that they have a win under their belt over the United States, will be looking at South Africa and saying, ‘we want to beat them as well’.
“We want to qualify and while the Japan result doesn’t change what we want to do, it does change the mindsets of the other teams who thought South Africa would roll over all their games.”
Full-back Stuart Hogg has recovered from the ankle injury he sustained in his side’s warm-up clash against Italy last month and is set to to take his place in Scotland’s starting XV to face Japan at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester tomorrow.
Scotland have never lose to Japan and recorded healthy victories in their four previous meetings, although coach Vern Cotter admits their shock win over the Springboks has sharpened his side’s preparation.
“It gave us an additional focus because they didn’t just compete, they won,” said Cotter. “As coaches we didn’t get much sleep after the game. We expect them to be just as ferocious, just as driven and well-organised against us.”
Eddie Jones’ Japan leapfrogged 12th-placed Scotland to 11th in World Rugby’s official rankings following their cavalier and enterprising victory over South Africa on Saturday.