Japan and Canada have named full-strength line-ups for Tuesday’s massive Pool A clash at McLean Park.
The teams' respective New Zealand coaches, John Kirwan and Kieran Crowley, may have once played together for the All Blacks, but there will be no time for friendship come kick off.
Crowley’s Canucks have shown the slightly better form at RWC 2011 and have made just two changes to the squad that recorded a 25-20 victory against Tonga and a 46-19 loss to France.
Matt Evans returns from injury to replace Ciaran Hearn at right wing in Canada's first and only change to a RWC 2011 starting XV. Jeremy Kyne replaces Nanyak Dala on the bench.
Japan, meanwhile, come into the match following defeats by France, New Zealand and Tonga, but Crowley says these results will only make the Brave Blossoms hungrier for victory.
“Their result against Tonga (31-18) probably didn’t really reflect on the improvements that they’ve made, and I think you need to go back to their game against France (47-21) and that’s probably more where they’re at,” Crowley said.
“It’s their last game, they’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, and we’ve still got two to go.
“They’ll be disappointed (after the Tonga match), but they will sort that out and come out with a massive game on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Japan coach Kirwan has also made only two changes to the line-up that took on Tonga last Wednesday in Whangarei.
Sione Talikavili Vatuvei replaces Itaru Taniguchi at blindside flanker and Nozomu Fujita steps in for Kensuke Hatakeyama at tighthead prop.
"It's a big game for the whole group,” Kirwan said. “We're all disappointed with what happened against Tonga, so the team's very motivated to have a good game.
"It's very, very important that, firstly, we front up physically. Canada are very physical, they took the game to Tonga.”
The Canucks and Brave Blossoms have faced each other twice since the last World Cup; in 2009, when Japan defeated Canada 27-6 in Tokyo and 46-8 in Sendai.
"They've improved massively since 2007," Crowley said. "We played them in 2009 and they beat us twice. They've put hundreds of thousands of dollars into their rugby programme, so they've put a lot into resources.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s another Test match. I’ve said all along that we’d never put one game in front of another and we’d always take them as they come, and you do as much work for, in this case, Japan as you do for France or we did for Tonga.
"So it’s about us doing our work and worrying about our game, and they’ll bring what they bring and we’ve got no influence over that.
“It’s about us getting ready, but when you have good performances you put expectations on yourself, and the pressure is on our guys to front up and perform.”
A Canadian win should be enough to secure a top-three finish in Pool A and qualification for RWC 2015. Defeat, however, could result in Crowley’s men dropping to the bottom of the pool.
For Japan, a victory would end a 20-year RWC drought. Their only RWC win came in 1991 when they beat Zimbabwe 52-8.