Coach Schmidt has been meticulous in preparing to face the Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts in front of 50,000 fans.
There was never a prospect of Ireland’s head coach Joe Schmidt treating this game with anything other than the utmost seriousness, a point underlined by the strength of his starting team.
Seven weeks ago, Schmidt was asked by Japanese journalists visiting Ireland for his thoughts on the host’s squad. Another coach would have spoken in polite generalities; Schmidt rattled off a string of names, all perfectly pronounced, and identified each of their strong points. He has done his analysis – and then some.
Japan, naturally, have been making noises all week that the pressure is all on Ireland. That is not strictly true, because coach Jamie Joseph is going all out to get Japan into the knockout stages for the first time. That will require a victory either over Ireland – and his players pulling off “the game of their lives” – or against a wounded Scotland in their final pool game.