Tomorrow we see Ireland kick off the Guinness Rugby Series against Samoa at 17:45 in the Aviva Stadium. This is big game for Ireland and Joe Schmidt, as this is a tough Autumn opener against a Samoa team ranked one place above them in the current IRB world rankings. I am looking forward to this new era of Irish rugby as I was starting to tire of Declan Kidneys ways, so I am hoping this will be a positive change. This is Samoa’s only game against a tier 1 nation so I think they are going to throw everything they can at them making it an even more difficult match. Adding to the difficulty Samoan rugby legend Peter Fatialofa died of heart attack during the week so all of the Samoan players will be playing in his honour. Fatialofa played in two World Cups and lead Samoa into the quarterfinals in the 1991 tournament, with a massive upset win over Wales.
On the positive side Samoa are missing some of their big guns, they were unable to bring Japan-based pair Alesana Tuilagi and Seilala Mapusua on tour, while winger David Lemi and full-back/centre Paul Williams miss out through injury. Either Lemi or Williams would have captained this side had they been fit. Even with the gap left by these players there is still quality players to fill these positions. I hoping their coach Stephen Betham the former 7’s coach allows them to play in the 7’s style , as this will make for an exciting game to watch.
Ireland are heading in with a strong team tomorrow, my only concern is Paddy Jackson. As I feel he does not bring the same level of skill or physicality that Sexton brings and he has been given a lot of time at 10 compared to the other outhalfs like Madigan. I think that Madigan should be given more game time and I would like to see Ian Keatley be given the opportunity to show what he can do as he is playing well for Munster.
My Prediction for the Game tomorrow is Ireland to win 24-14.
The other games that are on tomorrow are:
14:00 Italy V Australia – Australia to win
14:30 England V Argentina – England to win
14:30 Japan V Scotland – Scotland to win
17:30 Wales V South Africa – South Africa to win
17:45 Ireland V Samoa – Ireland of Course
20:00 France V New Zealand – New Zealand to win
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 (c), 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 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Alafoti Faosilivia, 21 Jeremy Sua, 22 Isaia Tuifua, 23 Fautua Otto.
Hope you enjoy the games tomorrow, they should be good.
Until next time,