SHIZUOKA, 23 Sep - "Everyone will expect Ireland to win," admits Japan second-row Uwe Helu ahead of their Pool A between the two teams in Shizuoka on Saturday. "But we're looking forward to it. All the pressure will be on them."
Joe Schmidt's team eased past Scotland 27-3 in their opener, but the hosts, too, were impressive in beating Russia 30-10.
"They'll be looking down on us, that's for sure," said 29-year-old Helu, who was born in Tonga. "We'll do everything we can when we get our chance."
Having seen Ireland's impressive defence in action, Helu said, "They defend stuck around the ruck and get close to each other. That's where I think where the spaces are (on the outside)."
Another Tongan-born forward is prop Asaeli Ai Valu. "I could see Ireland have the will to absolutely push at the scrum more than any other teams I've seen," said the 30-year-old. "(But) we should be OK (in stopping them from scoring) if we can do what we normally do."
While Ireland's forwards powered over for three of the team's four tries against Scotland, Japan's offloading game was a key feature of their victory over Russia. Continuing the Pacific Island connection, Timothy Lafaele, who is enjoying unique support (above), was one of those name-dropped by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt after the centre's deft offload led to the first of Kotaro Matsushima's three tries.
"Offloads have been a big part of our game for the last couple of years, just to create momentum around the edges," said the 28-year-old.
"You don't want to go into the game thinking you're going to use it all the time - you've got to pick and choose your time to use it and be smart about it."
"(Being mentioned by Schmidt) gives me a little bit of confidence but I know they can attack me as well so I'll try my best to handle the pressure that comes towards me."