Rugby World Cup 2019: How unity is motivating Japan to World Cup glory

As if their unbeaten record at the Rugby World Cup wasn't enough, Japan has sent another warning signal to South Africa before Sunday's quarter-final.

In a stand of unity, three bench players made an entrance in front of a packed out media room, arm-in-arm with their hands on each other's shoulders. They walked as one before addressing the room.

It's become a symbol for the 'Brave Blossoms', who exit the field in the same fashion. But it's a first at a press conference and serves as a reminder to the Springboks that they're a team with only one goal in mind. 

Of course, no-one needs to remind the Springboks about what happened at the last World Cup four years ago. 

"I wouldn't say it's stuck in our head, but we know it happened," admitted Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe. 

While acknowledging Japan are a stronger team than the one they thrashed 41-7 in September, South Africa are confident they still know how to shut down their line speed defence and their "Ferraris" on the wing.

But Japan's strength in unity isn't the only strength they're crediting for their history-making campaign. 

Joseph and captain Michael Leitch have said the polite and respectful nature of the Japanese culture has previously been to their detriment on the field, so they've inspired players to channel the "dark side" of Japanese culture. 

While hesitant to answer at first, hooker Takuya Kitade conceded it's about being more ruthless and less afraid to enter a "darker side" of the human mind.

Rugby World Cup 2019: How unity is motivating Japan to World Cup glory

"It's like being more ruthless against our opposition, for example, a darker side of human's mind," he said. 

It will perhaps be easier to do so on Sunday night when 50,000 fans are cheering them on at Ajinomoto Stadium and 55 million shouting at the TV from their living room. 

The issue now is how they capitalise on the newfound excitement, to grow - not only this weekend, but into a tier-one nation. 

"We don't know what comes next," halfback Kaito Shigeno admitted. "But hopefully the entire rugby community in Japan can think of that together."

Japan's success has not only inspired the team, but the entire nation, who are ready to unify as one.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us for live updates of all Rugby World Cup quarter-finals next weekend.

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