Never has it been more true that the big tests coming in the next month are going to be swung by the performances of the respective tight forwards.

But there's a twist to this truism as conditions in Japan are challenging tight fives in unexpected ways and damaging the impact of those teams whose athletes are built solely to thrive in the set-piece and collision.

This is a World Cup for the lean and mobile – not the heavy lifters who like to plod from breakdown to breakdown, throwing their weight around.


Premium gold newsletter

Japan is proving cruel and torturous for