Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland call on fit-again Robbie Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw
Henshaw played in Ireland's final warm-up game against Wales but has not yet featured at the Rugby World Cup in Japan
2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A: Ireland v Samoa
Venue: Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka Date: Saturday, 12 October Kick-off: 11:45 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Ulster; plus text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

Robbie Henshaw will play for the first time at this year's Rugby World Cup, having been named at outside centre for Ireland's last pool game against Samoa.

The Leinster back, who missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, will partner Bundee Aki in midfield.

Johnny Sexton is again selected at fly-half with Joey Carbery on the bench, as Conor Murray comes in at nine.

Tadhg Beirne moves from lock to the back row where he will join Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander.

Jordan Larmour comes back in at full-back having impressed in Ireland's first outing against Scotland.

In need of a bonus-point to guarantee passage to the last eight, head coach Joe Schmidt had named a strong side, making 11 changes from the team that defeated Pool A minnows Russia in Kobe last Thursday.

Robbie Henshaw
Henshaw missed the opening two games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup because of a hamstring injury, but played in Ireland's three remaining games in the tournament

The return of Henshaw, who has been restricted to only two international appearances so far this year, as a timely boost for Ireland who will hope the 26-year-old can have an impact similar to the one he had in Ireland's final warm-up win over Wales in September.

The first choice front row of Cian Healy, captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong all return as to second-row duo James Ryan and Iain Henderson.

Garry Ringrose and Peter O'Mahony, the only two Ireland players to have started all three of their games so far in the tournament, are rested while fly-half Jack Carty is also absent from the match-day 23 for the first time.

The cancellation of New Zealand's final group match against Italy means Ireland know for sure that, should they progress to the quarter-finals as group runners-up, they will face the All Blacks.

Typhoon Hagibis, which has wreaked havoc upon the final weekend of the pool stage, has already forced two matches to be cancelled and could yet mean Sunday's meeting between Scotland and Japan being called off.

In any case, Japan know that they will top the group if they collect two or more points from their final game, regardless of Ireland's result against Samoa.

Samoa aiming to go out on a high

Samoa's slim chances of progressing to the knock-out stages were ended in a defeat by Japan last Saturday.

Steve Jackson makes just two changes to his side for their final game in Fukuoka, with Logovi'i Mulipola and Teofilo Paulo coming in to the pack.

In their last two games, against Scotland and Japan, Samoa have put in spirited first half displays before allowing their opponents to control the game after the interval.

Ireland: Larmour, Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, Henderson, James Ryan; Beirne, Van der Flier, Stander.

Replacements: Scannell, Kilcoyne, Porter, Kleyn, O'Mahony, McGrath, Carbery, Conway.

Samoa: Nanai-Williams; Tuala, Leiua, Taefu, Fidow; Seuteni, Polataivao; Mulipola, S Lam Alaalatoa, Paulo, Le'aupepe; Vui, Ioane, J Lam.

Replacements: Niuia, Alo-Emile, Lay, Fa'asalele, Tyrell, Cowley, Pisi, Fonotia.

Top Stories

Best of the 2019 World Cup