Preview: Ireland v Samoa

For all the talk of cancellations and permutations, the equation for Ireland is simple.

For all the talk of cancellations and permutations, the equation for Ireland is simple.

Win with a bonus point against Samoa and they are into the quarter-finals, fail to do so and they leave themselves at risk of being bumped down to third place in Pool A.

Joe Schmidt’s team have rebounded well from their loss to Japan, keeping Russia scoreless in a bonus-point success, although it was not quite as straightforward as the 35-0 scoreline suggested.

Schmidt has gone with a much-changed team for this one, making 11 changes in all with what is approaching a full-strength side.

The return of Robbie Henshaw in the midfield is a real boost, particularly as it gives Schmidt the chance to rest Garry Ringrose. It will be an interesting call to see who of Henshaw, Ringrose or Bundee Aki does not start a possible quarter-final, this final match could have a major bearing.

Elsewhere Tadhg Beirne gets a chance to show what he can do in the back row. He certainly has the breakdown skills for it and he will face stiff opposition in a Samoan back row led by captain and No.8 Jack Lam.

Lam is one of a number of dangerous individuals in the Samoa team, but since their opening win over Russia, they have struggled to find their best form in Japan.

Ireland will be wary, but given what is on the line for them if they do take five points, Schmidt’s team will go in with confidence that they can get the job done.

Ireland v Samoa, Fukuoka, Saturday October 12, Kick-off 11:45AM (BST)

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt on Tadhg Beirne

“He’s been really solid, he’s been versatile for us. I thought he carried well against Russia, albeit the ball was more and more through the game a bar of soap, which made it very difficult.

“His ability to put pressure on the ball on the ground, his lineout work has been good – he gives us a little bit more height in the lineout. Defensively, he gets off the line well and he has trained really well. That’s probably the bit that people don’t see, but that does certainly have an influence in our eyes in making selection.”

Ireland captain Rory Best

“There were aspects of the Russia game that we produced that we can take confidence from.

“The bits we did well were very typical of us. The bits we didn’t do well, we actually had set them up or we didn’t follow through with some of the fundamentals that we do really well when we’re on top of our game.

“When you look at that, you take confidence you’re in a good place, but you just need to execute better.”

Samoa captain Jack Lam

“For us as players, we want to leave with a bit of pride in the jersey. We still have a lot to play for, in terms of trying to qualify for the next World Cup and obviously for the future of rugby in Samoa.”

Joe Schmidt highlighted the challenge posed by the Samoan back row, and that will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. However we have to go for the dynamite match-up of the full-backs. Jordan Larmour gets another chance with Rob Kearney not quite up to full speed. The Leinster youngster was hugely impressive in the win over Scotland, and will be looking to stake a claim for a starting spot in a potential quarter-final. He goes up against Tim Nanai-Williams, who has been passed fit to play having been an injury doubt in the week. Undoubtedly the most dangerous weapon in the Samoa backline, Nanai-Williams has electric feet and a passing game that has even seen him used at fly-half for club and country in recent seasons. You can be sure that if either Larmour or Nanai-Williams gets some space, they will be deadly.

Ireland: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Conor Murray, 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best (c), 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Tadhg Beirne, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. CJ Stander

Replacements: 16. Niall Scannell, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Jean Kleyn, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. Luke McGrath, 22. Joey Carbery, 23. Andrew Conway

Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Asee Tuala, 13. Alapati Leiua, 12. Henry Taefu, 11. Ed Fidow, 10. UJ Seuteni, 9. Dwayne Polataivao, 1. Logovi’i Mulipola, 2. Seilala Lam, 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 4. Teofilo Paulo, 5. Kane Le’aupepe, 6. Chris Vui, 7. TJ Ioane, 8. Jack Lam (c)

Replacements: 16. Ray Niuia, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Jordan Lay, 19. Piula Faaselele, 20. Josh Tyrell, 21. Pele Cowley, 22. Tusi Pisi, 23. Kieron Fonotia