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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Scots are ready insists Lam
Scotland assistant coach Pat Lam
Lam knows some of Japan's players
Scotland assistant coach Pat Lam says the squad are in perfect shape for playing in the intense heat and humidity of Townsville, where the Scots face Japan on Sunday.

The squad flew out to Australia a fortnight before their opening game to acclimatise, after training in a hothouse in Edinburgh.

But while Lam concedes the Japanese have a slight advantage, having trained throughout a hot summer in their home country, he does not believe that will adversely affect the Scots' chances.

Lam insists Scotland doctor, James Robson, and coach Ian McGeechan have ensured no stone has been left unturned in their preparations.

"The doc has been taking urine tests to make sure the hydration levels are up," added Lam.

"There are certain rules as far as water goes and as far as hydration goes whereby the players can go to the side. The medics have got all the water issues sorted and will also be keeping the boys cool.

"Japan have got to be there for three matches so they will have an advantage because most of their pool games are there in Townsville.

"But our medics and the management team have looked at it. We've got one game there and have prepared accordingly."

Lam dismissed concerns over the hard ground expected at the Dairy Farmers Stadium, insisting that it would be no different to the pitches the players play on at home, and he warned against complacency against the Japanese.

If we missed out on the quarter-finals it would be a huge disappointment
Pat Lam
While the later group matches against France and Fiji are widely viewed as the key to Scotland's fate in the competition, Lam feels victories over Japan and the USA should not be taken for granted.

Fly-half Andy Miller was a team-mate of Lam's for Super 12 side the Crusaders, while inside centre George Konia played with Lam for New Zealand's under-21 team.

But he picked out Japan's two most experienced loose forwards, number eight Takeomo Ito and openside flanker Yasunori Watanabe, as particular threats to Scotland.

"They were both flankers in 1999 and one has dropped back to number eight, and we played them there and also in the Pacific Rim tournament. Those two back-rowers are good players," he said.

"They like to run from anywhere, and there are some very quick guys and a lot of 'steppers' in the team, even in the forward pack, so our defence has to be very good and our ball control has to be very good as well."

Speculation suggests head coach Ian McGeechan may not field his strongest side, with a view to keeping players fresh for later games, given the searing heat in Queensland.

"The team will be named on Friday and people will see that it is very strong," added Lam.

"This is the strongest, fittest and best-prepared team Scotland have ever sent out, from one to 30, and any team we put out will be a strong side."





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