STUART HOGG is confident that Scotland will produce an adventurous performance this afternoon when they take on Japan in the last international of the year. But he has warned that the visitors should not be written off, and believes that their own style of play will prove to be a severe test for the home defence.

Although the Japanese have been hampered by the minimal amount of rugby they have been able to play over the past 18 months or so, the Scotland captain knows from personal experience just how dangerous they can be, having been part of the side that lost to them at the last Rugby World Cup. And he believes that Japan’s last visit to Edinburgh - in the summer, when they lost to the British & Irish Lions - provided an illustration of their ability to fight to the last.

“I don’t care how we win, as long as we’re winning,” Hogg said last night. “But then again I know exactly our attack structures and how we want to play the game. So it will be exciting. 

“It will be end to end, side to side, exactly what we want. Hopefully we’ll put in a performance that we’re proud of, that the nation is proud of, and ultimately that gets everybody at BT Murrayfield on their feet.

“Japan have not played a lot of rugby in the last 18 months or so, but they still showed glimpses of what they’re about. They’ve got a lot to offer. They’ve got a couple of games under their belt and will be even better prepared and in a better position to play against us. I’ve no doubt it will be a very good Test match.”

The teams’ meeting at the 2019 World Cup has gone down in history as the only time to date that Japan have defeated Scotland in a cap international. Hogg insisted that there was no thought of seeking revenge for that loss today, and suggested that earlier matches between the sides also showed just how big a threat the Japanese can pose.

“It’s gone,” continued the full-back, whose two tries against the Springboks last week equalled Scotland’s all-time scoring record of 24. “It’s all in the past. We can’t change that result or do anything about it. It’s all about this game at 1pm and us doing absolutely everything to finish off our campaign in the best possible way. 

“We can’t sit back and allow them easy avenues into the game or they’ll punish us. They’re a very, very intelligent rugby team and one of the quickest in terms of shifting the ball side to side going forward. In 2016 they went from defending a lineout five metres from their line to taking seven points a few minutes later. They’re a terrific side and it’s a great opportunity for us to show where we are in our defence, to be the best team in the world for defending, and tomorrow is another terrific challenge for us.  

“You can’t look into many of the games they’ve been involved in recently, because they’ve not had a huge amount of rugby. If you look back at the game against the Lions in the summer, the game we’ve looked at a lot this week, they were right in it until the end. 

“We know Japan will be really, really physical. We know they will shift the ball around and stick with it for a full 80 minutes. For us it’s an incredible challenge - but one we’re ready for and excited for.” 

Hogg’s predecessor as captain, Greig Laidlaw, retired from international rugby after the last World Cup and now plays his club rugby for Japanese club Shining Arcs. Revealing that he had had conversations with Laidlaw, the full-back said that his former team-mate had suggested to him that he move to Japan at some stage in his career.

“I’ve spoken to Greig a fair bit. He’s absolutely loving life out there. He’s really enjoying being at the club, he’s loving the culture and everything Japan has to offer. He’s absolutely loved over there and rightly so. And he said, ‘Mate, you have to be in a position to come and play in Japan’. I know that him, his wife and kids are loving life out there. It’s brilliant to see that.”