When Japan takes on Samoa in Toulouse, France, in Pool D of the Rugby World Cup on Thursday, it will be up against a team that knows more than a thing or two about Japanese rugby.

Head coach Seilala Mapusua spent five years in Japan playing for Kubota Spears (as they were then called) and Kamaishi Seawaves, and is the uncle of Toyota Verblitz lock Isaiah Mapusua, while assistant coach Tom Coventry is part of the clan that produced former Verblitz player Richard and Hokkaido Barbarians stalwart Jamie.

And then there are the players, some of whom will have to put aside friendships and employment history in what is a do-or-die game for both teams.