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Preview: Ireland v Samoa

Preview: Ireland v Samoa

Preview: Ireland v Samoa

Ireland will look to cap a successful Summer Nations Series with a win over Samoa in Bayonne. 

Andy Farrell’s side have flown to France to finalise their preparations for the Rugby World Cup, having already beaten Italy and England in an action-packed August. 

Seilala Mapusua’s Samoa are also flying high after impressive victories over Japan and Tonga in recent months, with their only defeat coming against Fiji. 

Team News

Farrell has made 12 changes to the team that defeated England last week, with Iain Henderson set to return to the side as captain. 

Tom Stewart is in line for his first Ireland start, while Jack Crowley will get the chance to impress at ten alongside half-back partner Conor Murray. 

A week on from scoring in his 100th appearance for Ireland, Keith Earls gets an opportunity to cement his place in Farrell’s World Cup plans with a starting spot on the wing. 

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Seventeen-cap All Black Lima Sopoaga will make his Test debut for Samoa against Ireland this weekend.

The 32-year-old will start at fly-half in a strong back line, with Jonathan Taumateine named at nine and Tumua Manu and Ulupano Seuteni linking up in midfield.

Duncan Paia’aua starts at full-back, with wingers Ed Fidow and Nigel Ah Wong named either side of him.

Ones to Watch

All eyes will be on exciting young prospect Stewart when Ireland contest their final fixture of the 2023 Summer Nations Series. 

The 22-year-old hooker came off the bench to make his international debut in the 33-17 triumph over Italy earlier this month, but this week he will get the opportunity to impress from the start. 

With question marks surrounding Dan Sheehan’s fitness, Farrell will be hoping to see Stewart shine against Samoa. 

He has already shown his strength and eye for the whitewash with his club side Ulster, but Saturday will be his biggest challenge yet.  

Theo McFarland will be the one to watch when Samoa contest their first and only match of the 2023 Summer Nations Series. 

The versatile forward is a destructive ball carrier with the skill to cut through even the best defences in the world. 

He started last season in sensational form for Saracens before a serious knee injury cut his campaign short so McFarland will be keen to prove he is back to his best.

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Stat Attack

● Ireland have won six of their previous seven Test matches against Samoa (L1) including each of their last five by margins of 10+ points – Ireland won their most recent match against Samoa by a margin of 42 points (47-5 in October 2019), their biggest-ever win against them.  

● Ireland have won each of their last 12 Test matches, their joint-longest ever winning run in Test rugby (also 12 between March 2017 and March 2018) – each of Ireland’s last seven wins have come by margins of 13+ points.

● Ireland have won each of their last 16 Test matches on home soil, their longest-ever such winning run, and have scored 4+ tries in each of their last four home matches – Ireland haven’t conceded more than two tries at the Aviva Stadium since July 2021 (4 v Japan)


Ireland: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Tom Stewart, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Iain Henderson (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Ryan Baird, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 James Ryan, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Garry Ringrose

Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua, 14 Ed Fidow, 13 Ulupano Seuteni, 12 Tumua Manu, 11 Nigel Ah Wong, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jonathan Taumateine; 1 James Lay, 2 Seilala Lam, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 4 Chris Vui, 5 Theo McFarland, 6 Taleni Seu, 7 Fritz Lee, 8 Steven Luatua

Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Miracle Faiʻilagi, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Neria Fomai

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