Stuart Hogg:'This is going to kill us for a few months'
At the age of 27, Scotland star Stuart Hogg still has at least one more World Cup in him but that was no consolation in Yokohama as the full-back reflected on a frustrating tournament which has seen him fail to light up the world stage as he and the nation’s rugby supporters would have liked.
The former Glasgow player, who will now head home to join up with new club Exeter Chiefs, cut a dejected figure as he spoke to the press in the immediate aftermath of the tournament-ending 28-21 defeat by Japan.
“Nothing we say now is going to change anything,” he said.
“We have to make sure the next time we are back together we get on with it and perhaps start to realise that things aren’t going to go our way all the time.
“I truly believe we will be better for this experience but, listen, it’s going to hurt us.”
Hogg said the squad had approached the game confident that they could get the result against the on-fire hosts to progress in the competition.
“We believed we could come here and achieve something special,” he said. “We haven’t managed to make it past the group stages. It’s tough. The boys are devastated. We can’t change anything, we are going home.
“We have to realise where we are. Maybe our expectations aren’t as high as we’d want them to be.
“We now go back to the drawing board having come here believing we could do something.
“We have to learn from this, individually and collectively. We have got to want to improve and learn.
“We need to put our bodies on the line at every opportunity. Everytime you pull on a Scotland jersey you have to give your all.
“I believe we did at times. This is going to kill us for a few months but I believe we will get better for the experience and put Scotland back on the map.”
Hogg revealed there was a sense of desolation among the players after a second-half rally wasn’t enough against a Japan side who hit back from the loss of an early Finn Russell try to roar into a 28-7 lead.
“We are absolutely devastated and believe me it’s a pretty bleak changing room to be in,” continued Hogg.
“The boys are gutted. I truly believe we could have got the victory we needed to at least make it to the quarter-finals.
“Unfortunately, we came up short and to be brutally honest, we were beaten by the better side.
“So fair play to Japan, they took their opportunities and if you give a team like that 28 points they you will have to do something exceptional to win.
“You have to give them credit, at times I thought they were outstanding, but we coughed up some early ball and that put us on the back foot.
“You need to take your chances in a Test match and if you give away cheap ball a team like Japan will punish you. They compounded our every error and we found ourselves behind our goal posts before we knew it.”
Hogg said Scotland gave flashes of what they were capable but just not enough.
“At times we showed exactly what we were about, we scored early doors and got ourselves into the lead,” he added.
“But after that the momentum swung their way and they are a tough team to stop, especially with a crowd like that behind them.
“Fair play to them, they took their chances.
“They are a team built on confidence and we simply didn’t do enough.”