CHIBA – Ireland want to take it one match at a time in their Rugby World Cup group stage but have already singled out hosts Japan as a tough opponent in Pool A, head coach Joe Schmidt said.
The current world number one open their campaign on September 22 in Yokohama against familiar foes Scotland before taking on Japan less than a week later.
Japan have never beaten Ireland in any of their previous meetings, but Schmidt said the recent strong run of form which saw the Brave Blossoms take the Pacific Nations Cup last month makes them a side that needs watching.
"I think Scotland will be very difficult for us. And I think just the six-day turnaround to Japan will be very tough," Schmidt told reporters on Saturday.
"They were obviously very strong in the Pacific Nations Cup, and I think we're trying to take one match at a time but we've certainly got an eye to the future and the quality that the Japanese team have."