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Scotland must rise to the occasion as Japan prepare to play for the Emperor

Published 24/06/2016

Scotland's Tommy Seymour faces a late fitness test ahead of Japan clash
Scotland's Tommy Seymour faces a late fitness test ahead of Japan clash

Scotland are bracing themselves to face a fired-up Japan side in Saturday's second and final Test in Tokyo where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will be in attendance.

It will be the first time Japan's head of state will attend an international rugby match and organisers expect more than 30,000 fans to turn up at the Ajinomoto Stadium.

Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor admits it is an exciting occasion to be involved in, but has warned his players to expect the home team's motivation to be sky-high for the historic encounter.

He said: "We are really excited that we are going to be playing in front of the Emperor and, talking to the Japanese people and liaison officers, understand that it is a really big deal that he is coming to the game.

"We understand how motivated the Japan team will be and we have spoken about how up for the game we also need to be because of this.

"It is great he is coming, I believe it is the first time he has come. It is really exciting. We are all sure the Japanese players will be motivated to do really well in front of him.

"Having the Emperor here is a big occasion for Japan and the Japanese players. We understand that it is going to be a tough Test match but certainly one that we want to win to finish the season off well."

Scotland will be looking to wrap up a 2-0 series victory in Tokyo having won the opening match 26-13 last weekend.

Although the winning margin was relatively comfortable in the end, Scotland were made to work hard in that match and were significantly aided by Japan being reduced to 13 men for a period either side of half-time.

Scotland made the most of their numerical superiority by scoring 14 points during that spell but Taylor knows they will need to do better in certain aspects of their game this weekend if they are to repeat their success.

"What we want to do as a group is go out there and put in a really good performance and finish the year off strongly," he said.

"We need to ensure we play at a really high standard, don't drop our standards and keep improving week by week.

"The first thing is to cut down the unforced errors. Also we want to ensure defensively we do a really good job.

"We need to hold onto the ball for a number of phases.

"A number of the guys had not played for between four and six weeks and when you have not played a competitive game like that, some of the passes don't stick, some of the running lines are not quite right. Hopefully we have been able to improve this week and get right some of those things we did not get right the week before."

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has made six changes for this weekend's match but may be forced into another with Tommy Seymour a late fitness doubt.

The Glasgow wing did not take part in the team's final training session and the medical staff are waiting to see how he feels on the day of the game before deciding whether he is fit to play.

Japan coach Mark Hammett told "Scotland have made a few changes but you are talking about a squad that has played a lot of Six Nations together and I don't believe that will weaken them in any way.

"In fact it can make them stronger as some players will have the chance to prove themselves."

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