Japan captain Michael Leitch said Friday the key to securing a two-test series win against Italy is more in the head than the body.
"The way we approach this game is more around our mental preparation," he told Kyodo News after leading his side in their captain's run under the closed roof at Noevir Stadium Kobe, which on Saturday will play host to the first rugby game in Japan to be played on hybrid turf.
"There's always a danger of complacency when you beat a team quite convincingly, so the big focus for us this week is keeping the preparation the same but making sure we are mentally switched on."
Last week's 34-17 win in Oita was based on a solid scrum and line-out with three of Japan's four tries coming directly from set-piece play.
The improved set piece, Leitch said, "comes down to preparation and the Sunwolves have obviously helped us around the scrum and line-out areas. We have a good understanding of how we want to operate and play against a Tier One side."
Head coach Jamie Joseph also praised his side's ability to match the Italians up front, but added he was hoping for an improvement in broken play.
"We turned a lot of their ball over but we never really capitalized on those opportunities," he said. "So we've worked a lot on trying to create opportunities around turnover ball. That's the unstructured game that we pride ourselves on."
Joseph, who has made just two minor changes in the back row -- with Yoshitaka Tokunaga starting, Kazuki Himeno shifting to No. 8 and Amankai Lelei Mafi on the bench -- said he was pleased with the defensive line speed last week that created pressure but said "our tackling let us down."
"We missed a tot of tackles. We tackled about 80 percent and missed 36 tackles and that's just not good enough. We want to improve that skillset and that part of the game."
It was a point that Leitch expanded on.
"We've had (defense coach John Plumtree) in for two weeks and we are still working on some minor changes," he said. "There's going to be missed tackles, it's how we deal with it. This week there has been a big focus on making sure we man-up on tackles as defense is going to be huge. The way we start the game is crucial."
Japan's victory last week also came down to some excellent game management from Yu Tamura, and Joseph said he was hoping for another big game from the flyhalf.
"We expect from all our (No. 10s) to control the game and link the team tactically and then adjust with different scenarios."
Italy for their part have made just two changes to their starting XV with Jayden Hayward and Jake Polledri coming into the starting line-up at fullback and openside flanker, respectively.
"Our defense was not good enough and we were not satisfied with our attack and set piece," Italy captain Leonardo Ghiraldini said of the game in Oita. "We've worked hard this week and want to perform at our level. When we have an opportunity we have to score, even three points."
"We were not good enough last week, so it's good to get another go at the same opponent a week later. It doesn't happen often."
Japan won the last two encounters against Italy having lost the first five, and Joseph knows making it three straight will be no easy task.
"We're expecting Italy to come out firing," he said. "They'll be disappointed with the result, they'll be disappointed with the fact they did not win the first test and they will come out with a lot of determination and want to make things right. And we are prepared for that."