The fly in the ointment from a Japanese perspective is that not only are Borthwick and Jones both moving on, momentum could be lost if the country’s proposed new Super Rugby franchise fails to get off the ground as planned in 2016.
Japan have named their most experienced RWC side ever to play Samoa in the Pool B match at Stadium MK on Sunday.
“Our backs are against the wall now and it will be all hands on deck for this game against Japan”, Samoa coach Stephen Betham said.
A certain combination of results would then see South Africa, Scotland and Samoa all on 14 points at the end of the pool, with Japan and the United States bringing up the rear.
“That victory by Japan was a huge shock, especially to South Africans, but for the Tier Two teams it demonstrated how we are all closing the gap on the Tier Ones”, said Melville, a former England scrumhalf.
Betham has made four other changes to the line-up that started against South Africa. “We need to deal with the here and now, go phase by phase and we can’t allow ourselves to drop off. That is the biggest thing, being in the moment the whole time”.
There may well be a more straightforward outcome, the most plausible being that South Africa win the group by a couple of points from Scotland.
But Scotland’s assistant coach Matt Taylor said Jones was wrong if he thought the pressure was on the Scots. No wonder Sean Lamont is desperate to play against South Africa and Samoa. “We want to hear you singing and going insane”. “Obviously there’s no respect for each other during the 80 minutes”.
“We’re treating it like a World Cup final in our eyes”.
Jones said: “We’ve got the most important game of the tournament against Scotland”.
“We saw one win at a minimum, and we had one win (against Russia) at the 2011 World Cup“, Melville told Reuters via email when asked what specific goals had been laid out by the USA heading into this year’s edition. “The Japan Way is about working out ways to overcome that disadvantage, and this will be a fantastic way to show how we can overcome such a disadvantage”.
On the challenge of facing Japan, he added: “We’ve done our homework but are focused on ourselves”.
Samoa T Nanai-Williams; K Pisi, P Perez, J Leota, A Tuilagi; T Pisi, K Fotuali’i; S Taualofo, O Avei, C Johnston, T Paulo, K Thompson, O Treviranus (capt), TJ Ioane, F Levave.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Mike Stanley, 23 Rey Lee-Lo.