Scotland winger Tim Visser has warned fans there can be no room for complacency when the national team open their World Cup campaign against Japan in September.
Japan have only won one World Cup match in their history and most supporters from north of the border expect Vern Cotter’s men to kick things off in Pool B with a fairly comprehensive victory when the teams meet on 23 September in Gloucester.
But the sport in the country is growing rapidly ahead of the showpiece event being held there in 2019 and they are now ranked 13 in the world, just three places behind Scotland.
“Japan, under their coach Eddie Jones, have come on leaps and bounds and they are a different team to the one that we have come up against and beaten in the past,” Visser said.
“They are quick and dynamic and, for the World Cup, everyone will be raising their game. After them we take on the USA and, although we won over there last year, they have a good team and good players and they will be ready for us.
“If you look at world rugby there is no easy opposition. Italy used to be the team in the Six Nations that you could hope for a win against, but we have had a tough time against them in the last couple of years. Ireland are on top of their game and France are getting back to where they were so all the warm-up matches we have will be tricky.
“It is a different ball game now. I think our pool at the big event is tricky and that is why you cannot look too far ahead. Samoa, well maybe five or six years ago you may have expected to beat them, but now they are tough.
“We have beaten them twice and lost once in the last few years and they are a good team, especially when they have their European-based stars back.”
As well as Japan, USA and Samoa, Scotland also have South Africa in their World Cup pool.