Hogg challenges Scotland to play biggest game of their lives
The Dark Blues are expected to face Japan on Sunday but a typhoon may derail their plans.
Stuart Hogg says Scotland must be ready to play their biggest game of their lives as they bid to reach the last eight of the World Cup.
Gregor Townsend’s team are due to take on Japan in Yokohama on Sunday and a win of at least eight points will take them through to quarter-finals.
Typhoon Hagibis could yet throw a spanner in the works and blow the Dark Blues out of the tournament if World Rugby deems the match is not safe to play and rule it a draw.
But Hogg is preparing as if the match will kick-off as planned at the 70,000-seater International Stadium and wants his side to grasp the enormity of the occasion.
“I think making it to the quarters would definitely be up there with the biggest things I’ve done so far,” declared Scotland’s star full-back.
“We’ve been in since the start of June working incredibly hard to get to where we want to be and come Sunday we’ve got a chance to let loose and get to a quarter-final.
“For myself and a lot of the boys this could be the biggest game of our careers and one we’re very much looking forward to getting stuck into.
“It’s a huge Test match for us but the majority of the squad have played in big games. There are a lot of boys with experience.
“It’s going to be a hell of a ding-dong battle.”
Scotland got off to a dismal start as they slumped to Ireland in their Pool A opener.
But this weekend they return to the same venue where that pasting from Joe Schmidt’s men took place in having claimed back-to-back bonus point wins without conceding a single score against Samoa and Russia.
It's going to be a hell of a ding-dong battle
- Stuart Hogg
Now Hogg has urged his side to maintain their recent standards and not slip back to the sloppy ways that hurt them last time out in Yokohama.
“For us as professional players we have to be on the money at every single opportunity,” said the British and Irish Lion. “We made it difficult with the way we started this tournament.
“But we’ve still got a chance going into the last game of making it to the quarter finals.
“The Japanese players are all terrific individuals who also play really well collectively.
“We need to make sure our defence is on the money to shut them down at the earliest opportunity and then make the most of our opportunities in attack.
“But we’re fully aware of the strengths that they have – but we see opportunities as well. There are some tasty match-ups but we truly believe we can win this Test match.”
The Japanese public have taken the Scots to the hearts in recent weeks, with Greig Laidlaw – who will resume the captaincy against the Brave Blossoms after Stuart McInally was dropped to the bench – the unlikely pin-up boy.
But they now find themselves cast as the baddies looking to kill off the hosts’ hopes of a fairytale run to the last eight.
However, upsetting the locals is the least of Hogg’s concerns.
He said: “We’ve had a terrific time in Japan so far. We’ve had a lot of different experiences. You’ll see by Gordy Reid’s Instagram and Twitter posts that he’s enjoying himself.
“But we came here with a job in hand and that was to win Test matches. We’ve got the chance to play against the host nation and it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
“The focus is on that and making sure we do everything we can to take another step forward.
“Are we the underdogs? We’re not bothered what we’re branded as.
“They are going to come out of the blocks firing. We have to match them and better them. These are the games as an international rugby player you want to be involved in. I just wish it was Sunday evening now.”