Preview: Ireland v Samoa

Fri, 08 Nov 2013 09:25
Large kahnfotuali itraining Large jamie heaslip ireland Large joe schmidt   brian o  dris

Emotions will be running high when Ireland take on Samoa in Dublin on Saturday.

Emotions will be running high when Ireland take on Samoa in Dublin on Saturday.

Samoan rugby was rocked this week by news of the death of the charismatic Peter Fatialofa who captained them in the 1991 World Cup.

Fatialofa, who was affectionately known as 'Fats', played 34 times for his country - he made his debut against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in October 1988.

However, passion alone will not be enough for Samoa who take on a strong Ireland side looking to impress under new coach Joe Schmidt.

Leinster loosehead prop Jack McGrath will earn his first senior cap against the powerful Samoans, while Dave Kearney could also make his senior debut for Ireland if introduced off the replacements bench.

There are six British and Irish Lions in the starting line-up - Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip and Rory Best - and a further three Lions tourists, Cian Healy, Paul O'Connell and Sean O'Brien, named among the replacements.

Samoan captain Kahn Fotuali'i knows that it will be a massive challenge for his side.

"It's a great challenge to take on Ireland and an exciting one. That progression we've talked about has to step up again this weekend.

"We fight for results and victories - years in the past certain wins might have been viewed by some as shocks, and maybe even Samoa saw them like that too.

"But it's not that way anymore. You can see that with the calibre of players declaring for Samoa. Players who are eligible for other countries are now making themselves available more and more for Samoa.

"As the whole Samoan set-up becomes more professional, more and more players will start making themselves available. Players want international rugby to be a step up from club rugby, and we're getting to that point with Samoa now.

"Already our focus is on preparing for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we've got a good structure in place for how to move the team forward.

"There's a good core of players, and hopefully whoever makes that squad will have experience of two or three years at least by then.

"I believe Samoa can make an impact on the latter stages of that tournament, provided we keep improving and progressing from here on in," he said.

Players to watch:

For Ireland: Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe will both take the Samoan defence on, whilst Brian O'Driscoll will want to show that there is life in the old dog yet. In the forward pack skipper Jamie Heaslip will be key to getting them over the advantage line and tighthead prop Mike Ross will be key at scrum-time.

For Samoa: Outside centre George Pisi will run hard at Ireland, whilst flyhalf Tusi Pisi will pull the strings and look to unleash those outside him. Scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali'i will be a key player and in the pack flank Jack Lam does not take a backwards step for anybody.

Head to head: The duel between George Pisi and Brian O'Driscoll at at outside centre should be a good one. Flyhalves Tusi Pisi and Paddy Jackson will both be central figures and up front the battle at scrum-time between Irish tighthead Mike Ross and Samoan loosehead Sakaria Taulafo should be immense.

Recent results:
2010: Ireland won 20-10 in Dublin
2003: Ireland won 40-14 in Apia
2001: Ireland won 35-8 in Dublin
1996: Samoa won 40-25 in Dublin
1988: Ireland won 49-22 in Dublin

Prediction: Samoa will come out firing but Ireland simply have too much class and should take this one by at least 15 points.


Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Dave Kearney.

Samoa: 15 Faatoina Autagavaia, 14 Alapati Leuia, 13 George Pisi, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Brando Vaaulu, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Faatiga Lemalu, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tii Paulo, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Alafoti Faosilivia, 21 Jeremy Sua, 22 Isaia Tuifua, 23 Fautua Otto.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17.45 (17.45 GMT; 07.45, Sunday, November 10 Samoa time)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy but dry, high of 9, wind 20 kph
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)