Ireland forwards itching to make amends for Japan loss against Samoa – Easterby
Ireland’s front-line stars are expected to be restored for the Samoa clash.
Simon Easterby believes Ireland’s latent fury from their shock loss to Japan could turn their pack of forwards into a “different animal” against Samoa.
Ireland will roll out all their big guns for Saturday’s Pool A decider against the Samoans in Fukuoka, with quarter-final qualification on the line.
Head coach Joe Schmidt made seven changes to the pack for last Thursday’s 35-0 win over Russia in Kobe, and should restore front-line stars like captain Rory Best to take on Samoa.
The bulk of Ireland’s pack have not featured since the stunning 19-12 defeat to hosts Japan in Shizuoka on September 28 – and forwards coach Easterby reckons that group will be itching to deliver a riposte.
Asked if the pack will channel those frustrations into the Samoa clash, Easterby said: “I think so; there were a few elements we didn’t get right.
“I think our scrum has been effective, it’s been a good weapon.
“We’ve had a couple of maul opportunities that we didn’t quite nail, one for a penalty against us for disconnecting but we had a good set-up.
“We had some good outfield mauls where we got a little bit of success at changing the picture in defence.
“If we can bring all of that this weekend, along with the quality ball-carrying and quality work in the contact area on the attack side, then we’ll hopefully find a different animal on Saturday.
“But Samoa won’t just roll over and allow us to do that. We’ve seen how tough they can be in large parts of their games and that presents a challenge in itself.
“So it’s going to be physical and we’ve got to be in the right place emotionally, but we’ve also got to have our smarts and game understanding to allow us to get through those periods when things don’t go our way.”
The threat of Typhoon Hagibis continues to leave the weekend’s World Cup matches in doubt, though World Rugby is closely monitoring weather patterns.
The game’s governing body has contingency plans to shift venues to see all the final pool encounters completed, though any that fall foul of the weather would be deemed scoreless draws.
The latest weather forecasts suggest Hagibis will skirt away from Fukuoka this weekend, but Easterby insists the Ireland camp are preparing as normal.
“We’re probably about as informed as you guys are in terms of where it’s heading,” he said.
“By all accounts things can change reasonably quickly, but we are playing here on Saturday against Samoa unless we’re otherwise informed.
“That is how we have prepared all week and how we’re still preparing.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re planning to take on Samoa here in Fukuoka.”