The Ireland team knows what they need to do. It’s simple, really. Secure a bonus point victory over Samoa. Well, easy on paper anyway.
The team selection shows just how serious Joe Schmidt and his backroom team are about this one. I think Robbie Henshaw would have been started even if we had managed to beat Japan; he could do with a run out to test everything is back to normal.
Ideally, however, we would already have qualified for the knock-out stages and have been able to rest some key players. Should we qualify in second position, as is within our own power to do, it will mean a show-down with the All Blacks next weekend.
The New Zealand against Italy game has been cancelled due to the typhoon that is threatening to ruin Scotland’s chance of a reprise on Sunday. It is not ideal that the team we could face will have a full extra week to prepare for us. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be focusing on us. It is not likely that Scotland can do enough to push Japan out of the first two spots, in my opinion.
|2||Rory Best (Captain)|
|7||Josh van der Flier|
The team has a familiar feel to it; a balance. The only notable omission is that Garry Ringrose is getting a well earned break having played in all the matches so far. Peter O’Mahony starts from the bench, giving Tadhg Beirne a chance to show what he can do. His ability to disrupt ranks high in world rugby, and he could be a central player in Ireland getting a firm grasp of the game.
Jordan Larmour gets another chance to show what he can do at full back. The coach has shown a lot of faith in the young Leinster player, not all of it warranted, but this is the perfect stage for him to strut his stuff.
It’s hard to see Ireland losing this one, but we do need the bonus point. The spread is at twenty-eight points, four converted tries. That shows that confidence is high that we can book a ticket for the quarter finals. But it will be a nervous twenty-four hours for me. And the reward? We get to prove ourselves against the reigning World Champions.