Preview: Ireland v Russia

The scars of Shizuoka need to heal and fast, because Ireland get back on the horse on Thursday against Russia.

The scars of Shizuoka need to heal and fast, because Ireland get back on the horse on Thursday against Russia.

Qualification for the knockout stages, despite the shock loss to Japan, remains in Ireland’s own hands.

Bonus-point wins over Russia tomorrow and Samoa next weekend will confirm their qualification regardless of the Brave Blossoms’ and Scotland’s efforts.

Victory should be assured for the men in green in Kobe, they have only faced Russia once before at a World Cup and that ended up as a 62-12 victory back in 2011.

More of that and Joe Schmidt will be a happy man, but the manner of the victory will be just as important as the margin.

Andy Farrell has spoken this week about sides that have used a disappointment in a World Cup group stage and turned it into a positive.

Think of England in 2007 or France in 2011 who both bounced back to come within a whisker of winning it all.

Johnny Sexton will be key to leading the revival. The fly-half skippers his country for the first time as one of nine changes to the starting XV.

Jordi Murphy gets straight off the plane to start at No.8, Tadhg Beirne and Jean Kleyn get their chance in the second row while Peter O’Mahony and Garry Ringrose are the only two Ireland players to have started all three games so far.

Russia named the same team twice in a row for their opening two losses, to Japan and Samoa, but change nine for Thursday.

But skipper Vasily Artemyev remains as skipper and full-back and is well known to Irish audiences for his time at Blackrock College and UCD.

He is Russia’s talisman and will have to be at his brilliant best if Russia are to inflict a second shock of the tournament upon Ireland.

Ireland v Russia, Thursday October 3, Kobe, Kick Off 11:15AM (BST)

Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell: “You can use a setback in the right manner. You can look at the last three World Cups. South Africa lost to Japan and lost the semi-final (to New Zealand) 20-18. You look at 2011 – France looked in disarray and there’s a debate about whether they should have won the final.

“In 2007, I was part of the England squad that got a thrashing against South Africa. There was a bit of turmoil in that camp and they managed to get to the final. There was a debatable try that was disallowed. You can use these to your advantage, they’re not ideal, but if you use them to your advantage they can be powerful.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: “We have to stay around our performance-orientated goals. We can’t put anything on the scoreboard without getting the things we need to put in place – that we build the pressure or that we create the opportunities from.

“I felt the first 20 minutes last weekend (against Japan) was very good. We got the right field position and turned a few balls over, which was frustrating. But we converted two tries on the back of some really good line breaks and maybe that was to our detriment because we kind of stepped back after that and didn’t play with the same front foot. You can’t afford to do that against a quality opposition.”

Russia head coach Lyn Jones: “We are facing probably the toughest challenge that Russian rugby has ever faced. We take on one of the best teams in the world, Ireland. The challenge is huge but the enthusiasm and confidence in our team is very good, and preparation has gone well.”

O’Mahony switches to the openside on Thursday for his third start in a row at this World Cup.

The Munster man will want to re-scale the heights both he and Ireland’s pack touched in their opening win over Scotland and steer clear of the errors that plagued their second half against Japan.

Up against him on the openside is Russia’s chief destroyer, Gadzhiev like O’Mahony is undroppable and was at his hard-hitting best in the tournament opener against Japan.

Ireland: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Keith Earls, 10. Johnny Sexton (c), 9. Luke McGrath; 1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Peter O’Mahony, 8. Jordi Murphy.

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Andrew Porter, 18. Tadhg Furlong, 19. Iain Henderson, 20. CJ Stander, 21. Joey Carbery, 22. Jack Carty, 23. Jordan Larmour.

Russia: 15. Vasily Artemyev (c), 14. German Davydov, 13. Igor Galinovskiy, 12. Kirill Golosnitskiy, 11. Denis Simplikevich, 10. Ramil Gaisin, 9. Dmitry Perov; 1. Andrei Polivalov, 2. Evgeny Matveev, 3. Kirill Gotovtsev, 4. Andrey Garbuzov, 5. Bogdan Fedotko, 6. Anton Sychev, 7. Tagir Gadzhiev, 8. Victor Gresev

Replacements: 16. Stanislav Selskii, 17. Valery Morozov, 18. Vladimir Podrezov, 19. Andrey Ostrikov, 20. Evgeny Elgin, 21. Sergey Ianiushkin, 22. Roman Khodin, 23. Vladimir Ostroushko.