Japan coach Jamie Joseph has fired back at what he described as media reports that he and his team would prefer their final World Cup pool match against Scotland to be cancelled due to the approaching Typhoon Hagibis.
If the match at Yokohama Stadium tomorrow night is called off, Japan will qualify for the World Cup knockout phase for the first time. A loss would potentially see them miss out.
It was unclear what reports the former All Blacks loose forward was referring to but he was adamant the Brave Blossoms' place above Ireland and Scotland at the top of Pool A was no "fluke".
The All Blacks v Italy game in Toyota City and England v France match in Yokohama tomorrow have already been cancelled due to an approaching violent weather condition described as a "super typhoon". Scotland are desperate the match against the hosts in Yokohama scheduled for tomorrow night proceeds as planned because if it doesn't they're in big danger of failing to qualify.
Scotland have threatened legal action should the game not go ahead, and in arguing that Japan's efforts were being 'undermined', Joseph took exception about the prospects of 'legal challenges'.
There is also the quarter-final mix to consider. Should Japan retain their place at the top of Pool A their reward will be a knockout match against the Springboks rather than the All Blacks.
Joseph, a straight talker at the best of times, is just as keen for the match to go ahead. He and his side have taken the tournament by storm following their victory over Ireland and wins over Russia and Samoa and they want to qualify the right way rather than by what some may describe as "default". He described the match against Scotland as the most significant of Japan's rugby history.
"Over the last few days from the media reports I've read, I feel they have undermined the efforts of the Japanese national team and the significance of Sunday's test match against Scotland for Japan," Joseph said.
"We feel we've played and won three test matches and that's put us in the best position for our pool. I'd like to remind everybody it hasn't been a fluke, there has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people. This team has been in camp for 240 days this year alone.
"While the majority of my players are professional with their companies, we are an amateur rugby team. What that means is when my players are in camp with Japan they do not get paid, or they get paid about 100 bucks a day.
"I'll let you guys do the maths and make the comparisons with the other teams.
"The next point I'd like to make is that everyone in our squad, players and coaches, want to play the test match. We all want to earn the right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world.
"It's important for us to wake up on Monday morning and understand we are a worthy of a top-eight team or not good enough.
"I just think the key difference here between us and Scotland is that we are driven and supported by the whole country. My team is motivated by achieving something that is great, not by avoiding embarrassment."
Joseph's reaction was strong but hardly surprising because it will represent the host nation's. Japan's innate sense of fair play and honour has come through strongly during this tournament and the thought that their team could progress at Scotland's expense via a favourable decision from World Cup organisers will fill them with horror.
"We see each game as an opportunity to inspire Japan," Japan's Kiwi captain Michael Leitch said. "If the game does get called off it would be unfortunate but we'd just have to look ahead to the quarter-final."
All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, meanwhile, said he understood the frustration in the Italy camp following the cancellation of their match in Toyota City which was scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
If Italy had beaten the All Blacks and denied them a bonus point, the Italians would have progressed at the expense of Whitelock's team. Captain Sergio Parisse, now denied an appropriate World Cup swansong at the end of his international career, was particularly scathing, saying the match would have been held had the defending champion All Blacks needed the points.
"It's probably just a bit of frustration coming out, which is understandable," Whitelock said of Parisse.
Whitelock added: "I've had a couple of Super Rugby games cancelled, because of an earthquake in one case and then the shooting [both in Christchurch] and in both instances you understand why.
"Rugby's just a small thing. We tend to get carried away with it a little bit, we're so passionate about rugby, and we always want to go out and play, but sometimes the right thing is not playing. There would be nothing worse than if we did play and people were getting hurt."
Japan team to play Scotland at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 7.45pm is:
1. Keita Inagaki
2. Shota Horie
3. Jiwon Koo
4. Luke Thompson
5. James Moore
6. Michael Leitch (c)
7. Pieter Labuschagne
8. Kazuki Himeno
9. Yutaka Nagare
10. Yu Tamura
11. Kenki Fukuoka
12. Ryoto Nakamura
13. Timothy Lafaele
14. Kotaro Matsushima
15. William Tupou
16. Atsushi Sakate
17. Isileli Nakajima
18. Asaeli Ai Valu
19. Uwe Helu
20. Hendrik Tui
21. Fumiaki Tanaka
22. Rikiya Matsuda
23. Ryohei Yamanaka