Russia have 'tripped' into the Rugby World Cup according to head coach Lyn Jones, leaving them at a disadvantage against hosts Japan who they face in the tournament opener on Friday.
The Bears, ranked 20th in the world, reached the sport's quadrennial showpiece event for a second time after Spain, Belgium and Romania were disqualified in May 2018 for fielding ineligible players."We've tripped into this competition through other people's misdemeanours. We're late into this competition" Jones told AFP.
"We've basically fitted four years' work in one year. It comes with many challenges and inconsistencies but we're learning on the go.
"We've had one year to prepare whilst a team like Japan, who have known about their qualification for some years will have been preparing for around seven or eight years about this," the 55-year-old added.
Russia's preparation for the World Cup has included a heaviest ever Test defeat to Italy, 85-15, and losses at home to English club side Jersey and Irish province Connacht.
"I was disappointed with our performance against Italy and the scoreline reflected our performance. We're a better side than that," he said.
"I doesn't matter how preparation goes, it's all about turning up on September 20 and performing," he added.Captain Vasily Artemyev, who played in all four matches in New Zealand in 2011 praised Jones' work in short period of time.
"It wasn't easy. We couldn't have done better work with Lyn Jones and his coaching team convening to take us through the 11 months or so in preparation," the 32-year-old told AFP.
- 'Don't hold back' -
Artemyev, who spent the final years of his education in Ireland, will come up against some familiar faces, including Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy and Peter O'Mahony, in their third pool match in between playing Samoa and Scotland.
"They're going to be probably the strongest team in our pool but it's going to be great," he said.
"I can't wait to play against them," he added.
Artemyev along with Russia's most-capped player Yuri Kushnarev are among eight in the squad who also featured in New Zealand.
Kushnarev, who has made 109 Test appearances since his international debut in 2005, has a positive outlook after a 32-27 defeat to the Brave Blossoms last year.
"Last November we showed we could stay in a game for about 60 minutes and were near to beating Japan," the 34-year-old said.
"In the opening game we're looking to win it because you can't step on the field and expect to lose," he added.
Full-back Artemyev, his country's record try scorer on 29 warned his players about being nervous in Tokyo at the end of the week
"We can't be shy and we should go all out no matter who we go against," he said.
"It's incredible for us but we have to go out there and not hold back."