World Rugby defend Fukuoka turf before Ireland vs Samoa

  • World Rugby defend Fukuoka turf before Ireland vs Samoa

World Rugby defend Fukuoka turf before Ireland vs Samoa

Second-placed Ireland are on 11 and play the already eliminated Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday in their final pool game.

Sunday's match between Pool A rivals Japan and Scotland is in major doubt. Scotland are on +71, Ireland on +52 and Japan on +46 but the runners-up berth is decided on head-to-head, not points.

It was the first chance for the players and coaches to get a proper look at the surface, which is in desperate condition, and as soon as Joe Schmidt took to the pitch, he examined it before calling over officials.

Youngster Jordan Lamour gets the nod at full-back over the injured Rob Kearney, with only Jonathan Sexton, Keith Earls and Tadhg Beirne retaining their places from the win over Russian Federation last time out.

Schmidt's likely plan would have been to rest several of his frontline players in the final Pool A game only for the shock defeat by hosts Japan to rip up the script.

Typhoon Hagibis is not expected to impact on Ireland's clash with Samoa on Saturday in Fukuoka, where kick-off is at 11.45 am Irish time.

The situation will be clearer after Ireland's match with Samoa but assuming Ireland record a bonus-point win over the Samoans, Scotland need to beat Japan with a bonus point and ensure the Brave Blossoms don't pick up any losing BPs to advance as runners-up. They just put up short and it was Scotland that ended it again.

Should the game be called off and Ireland beat Samoa, Scotland would be eliminated from the tournament, with Japan finishing as pool winners ahead of Ireland, regardless of today's result.

Joe Schmidt's team have rebounded well from their loss to Japan, keeping Russian Federation scoreless in a bonus-point success, although it was not quite as straightforward as the 35-0 scoreline suggested. Following the latter game, one in which it cut up badly, the pitch was relaid. "All we can do is concentrate on that now", said the South African-born back row.

"You can't control these things", he said.

Players were seen lifting strips of turf off the ground during Friday's captain's run.

But Ireland's players and coaches have remained at pains to point out that although the focus of many onlookers has been elsewhere, their priorities have not changed.

Ireland still gets a chance to finish top of its Rugby World Cup group - for now.

"You just don't want those distractions for all of us to forget about how special the tournament is".

That may not be enough to overtake Japan at the top of the table, unless Scotland get a chance to beat the hosts, but CJ Stander insisted that Ireland can not have any complaints if that situation arises.

Samoa: Nanai-Williams; Tuala, Leiua, Taefu, Fidow; Seuteni, Polataivao; Mulipola, S Lam Alaalatoa, Paulo, Le'aupepe; Vui, Ioane, J Lam. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Jordan Lay, 19.

Schmidt examined the surface very closely and although the Ireland head coach was not up for media duties, it was left to his assistant Greg Feek to address the concerns. "So we are hoping to get in there and tweak up the machine and smash it".

Samoa arrived in Japan without a clutch of Europe-based stars who, just like Lam, were told heading to the World Cup would jeopardise their club futures.

"Knowing that we're on an airplane on Monday, going home, to have a scalp like that would be great".