Ireland will face Samoa on Saturday 12 October in a Pool A match at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City. Kickoff is at 19:45 (06:45 ET). In the U.S, the match may be viewed on-demand on NBC Sports Gold and on TSN 1 and 4 in Canada.
Entering the match, Ireland is in second place with 11 points with Japan topping the pool with 14. Japan faces a key match against Scotland on Sunday. Scotland has 10 points and should they get a bonus-point win, they could knock Japan from the quarterfinals, should Ireland beat Samoa. Should Ireland lose to Samoa, a Scotland win would mean that Ireland is eliminated.
Ireland opened the RWC 2019 with a 27-3 win over Scotland, a 19-12 loss to Japan, and a 35-0 win over Russia. Samoa opened the RWC with a 34-9 win over Russia, a 34-0 loss to Scotland, and a 38-19 loss to Japan. Samoa is in fourth place with 5 points.
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt has made 13 changes in the starters from the team’s win over Russia. The team closely resembles the one against Japan, with the exception of flanker Tadhg Beirne, flyhalf Johnny Sexton, centers Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw, and fullback Jordan Larmour.
Only Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls on the wing were retained from the starters against Russia.
Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw will make his first appearance of RWC 2019 against Samoa after a hamstring injury curtailed his participation.
Joe Schmidt described the match as “business as usual” – despite uncertainty over the key Japan v Scotland fixture, also in Pool A. No matter what happens in the Japan v Scotland game, scheduled for Sunday in Yokohama – should it survive Typhoon Hagibis – a bonus point-win for Ireland at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium would guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals.”
After training on Thursday, the Ireland squad learned that the two other matches scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled, with doubt remaining over Japan v Scotland the following day, the final pool match of the tournament.
Half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray will start their 55th Ireland test together, equalling the record set by the Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer partnership.
Full-back Rob Kearney was held out of the matchday 23.
“While Ireland know that a five-point return from the fixture will guarantee them at least second place in the pool, they will be acutely aware that a victory without a bonus point could potentially mean they miss out.”
Ireland will have to wait until Sunday before knowing their situation. Should the Japan v Scotland game be cancelled, Japan would top the pool and Ireland would face a quarter-final against holders New Zealand on Saturday, 19 October.
Samoa has made two changes from their match against Japan. Logovi Mulipola returns at loosehead prop and Filo Paulo will be at lock.
Following the conclusion of the match against Ireland, Samoa will exit the Rugby World Cup 2019, but the opportunity is to play a spoiler role and for some on the roster it could lead to professional contracts.
Filo Paulo’s stint at English side London Irish ended earlier this year. Captain Jack Lam, winger Belgium Tuatagaloa and scrum-halves Dwayne Polataivao, Melani Matavao and Pele Cowley are also without a club contracts.
Ireland: 1. Cian Healy 2. Rory Best (capt.) 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Iain Henderson 5. James Ryan 6. Tadhg Beirne 7. Josh Van der Flier 8. CJ Stander 9. Conor Murray 10. Johnny Sexton 11. Jacob Stockdale 12. Bundee Aki 13. Robbie Henshaw 14. Keith Earls 15.Jordan Larmour 16. Niall Scannell 17. David Kilcoyne 18. Andrew Porter 19. Jean Kleyn 20. Peter O’Mahony 21. Luke McGrath 22. Joey Carbery 23. Andrews Conway
Samoa: 1. Logovi Mulipola 2. Seilala Lam 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Filo Paulo 5. Kane Le’aupepe 6. Chris Vui 7. TJ Ioane 8. Jack Lam (capt.) 9. Dwayne Polataivao 10. Ulupano Seuteni 11. Ed Fidow 12. Henry Taefu 13. Alapati Leiua 14. Ah See Tuala 15. Tim Nanai-Williams 16. Ray Niuia 17. Paul Alo-Emile 18. Jordan Lay 19. Piula Faasalel 20. Josh Tyrell 21. Pele Cowley 22. Tusi Pisi 23. Kieron Fonotia