Japan are the latest nation to truly burst onto the international scene. They are a team that love to turn up to a World Cup and cause upsets. The Miracle of Brighton was even turned into a film after Japan felled South Africa in 2015. Japan followed up this victory with wins over Ireland and Scotland at Japan's home World Cup four years later. They were the first Asian nation to make it out of the World Cup pool stages in 2019.
Due to their lack in size, Japan like to play a fast and skilful game. When their backs get going they can be considered one of the most dangerous attacks in the sport. Watch out for Kotaro Matsushima... However, more often than not they'll find themselves on the back foot and being targeted at the maul by larger sides. This was how South Africa dismantled them at the last World Cup. Despite this challenge, Japan do still possess a number of exceptional forwards. Captain Michael Leitch is the talisman of the side. This will be the flanker's third World Cup as skipper which puts him on a par with Richie McCaw and Sergio Parisse. The aging Shota Horie at hooker is omnipresent. At the age of 37, he can still be considered one of the most skilful forwards around. Finally backrower Kazuki Himeno packs a punch with his powerful carries.
Japan find themselves on the easier side of the pool draw in a group with England, Argentina, Samoa and Chile, however it is still a tough pool for them. Their target will be to get out of the group and secure back-to-back quarter finals. On their day, Japan could spring upsets against England and Argentina, but they could equally lose to Samoa who possess a powerful pack. Samoa have already beaten Japan this summer although Japan were red carded early on. Japan have struggled recently with only two wins in the past ten games. Will it be a World Cup quarter final or will they finish fourth and miss out on automatic qualification for 2027?