Japan vs Samoa Live : Tournament hosts Japan go into this weekend’s clash with Samoa as favourites after winning their last two meetings.
But after the heartbreak of missing out on the quarterfinals four years ago, the Brave Blossoms know there’s still work left to do.
After beating Russia 30-10 and then stunning Ireland 19-12 to top Pool A, Japan will be hoping to take a giant step against the Samoans.
“We will be hoping to target the bonus point,” said winger Kotaro Matsushima, mindful that Scotland looms in their final group fixture.
“But first we have to make sure we get the job done and win the game.”
Samoa began with a comfortable 34-9 win over Russia but was hammered 34-0 by Scotland in their next game.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph insisted that will make the Pacific islanders dangerous opponents in Toyota on Saturday.
“They lost their game against Scotland and they’ll be hurting,” said the former All Black.
“They’ve had some tough times but they’re the sorts of things that usually bring the team tight together, so we’re expecting a really physical and tough game.”
Talismanic leader Michael Leitch returns to Japan’s back row after being dropped to the bench against Ireland.
That news clearly riled the Kiwi-born flank, who played like a man possessed when he came on after 30 minutes in Shizuoka.
Pieter Labuschagne retains the captaincy after an impressive first outing as skipper, but Joseph insisted Leitch was still the leader in the dressing room.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph has also recalled hooker Atsushi Sakate and second row Wimpie van der Walt.
Seilala Lam is one of six changes to the Samoa side beaten 34-0 by Scotland, the hooker joining his brother Jack, the captain and No 8, in the Pacific Islanders’ line-up.
The squad received a special guest on Thursday as Samoa’s Prime Minister Aiono Sailele visited them at their training camp.
Japan:15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Lomano Lemeki, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare; 1 Keita Inagaki, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 3 Jiwon Koo, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 James Moore, 6 Michael Leitch, 7 Pieter Labuschagne (c), 8 Kazuki Himeno.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kenki Fukuoka.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Ah See Tuala, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polataivao; Jordan Lay, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa, Piula Faasalele, Kane Leaupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (c).
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 James Lay, 19 Senio Toleafoa, 20 Josh Tyrell, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 Kieron Fonotia.