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Japan have a number of things working in their favour, warns Irish boss

Making point: Joe Schmidt is wary of the hosts' danger
Making point: Joe Schmidt is wary of the hosts' danger

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt always sees the pitfalls in any situation. Being an active worrier is just his way.

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Aware that the bookmakers are offering a 21-point spread on tomorrow's meeting between his Ireland side and Japan, he'd likely argue that the difference in preparation times, humid conditions and home advantage will level the playing field somewhat.

The hosts struggled at times in their opener against Russia last week, but they've had eight days to recover from that game whereas Ireland had a six-day turnaround following their victory over Scotland.

Both coaches have made four changes for their second outings and while Schmidt enthused about his team's sharpness in the heat at the Yumeria Grounds yesterday, he'll be conscious that the forecast of 66 per cent humidity and 28-degree heat is not ideal.

"There's a sense of the elevation of the occasion because they're the host nation and the investment they've made in this team," he said. "They've spent something like 180 to 200 days in camp, they invested a lot of time in each other to create the combinations that they so very effectively have shown.

"Maybe they were a little below par against Russia by their standards in their ball-transfer and accuracy, but we know that they can be flicked around... they've an eight-day turnaround as opposed to six days.

"So while we were thrashing it out with Scotland, they'd had a full day's recovery and an opportunity to have a good look at us.

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"We're conscious that they will be really well prepared, incredibly well supported and that elevates the occasion. It's not something we're too distracted by. All we control is what we deliver."

Although the win over Scotland was hugely satisfying, he said there was plenty of scope for improvement.

"There's always elements of it, it was probably unusual for us to use Andrew Porter as a lineout option," he said. "I thought our lineout was super. The turnover scrum we got, it kind of got away from Jack (Conan) but it was a nice square scrum.

"The set-piece was a place where we were quite strong at, which is nice. We cleared our lines with some good kicking.

"The lads enjoyed this morning's session. You can tell from the energy they put in. It was a super session. Maybe we'll be a bit better in the air, that's somewhere we can improve."

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