Keeping the focus on Samoa; Liam Toland on Robbie Henshaw’s importance

The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with The Irish Times sports team

Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne and CJ Stander at the captain’s run at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup clash with Samoa. Photo: Christophe Simon/Getty Images

Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne and CJ Stander at the captain’s run at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup clash with Samoa. Photo: Christophe Simon/Getty Images

The hatches in Tokyo and Yokohama are now well and truly battened down as the east coast of Japan braces itself for the Super Typhoon Hagibis. Australia will meet Georgia this morning in Shizuoka (kick-off: 11.15am) before it becomes a case of get out or get to safety. I’m fairly sure they don’t stock up on Brennan’s sliced pans in Tokyo but whatever they do stockpile in the face of a storm is definitely all gone from the supermarkets now. But on the other side of the country and further down south Ireland and Samoa are preparing for tomorrow morning’s encounter in the serenity and 25 degree heat of Fukuoka. With the prospect of a quarter-final encounter against New Zealand looming next Saturday, it would be easy to start to think ahead but Joe Schmidt and his troops certainly will not do that with the focus very much on the task at hand, as writes Gerry Thornley. You can follow Ireland’s meeting with Samoa on our liveblog from 11.15am tomorrow morning and you can get all of the details you need to know about the match in our helpful guide. In the last few minutes Ireland have expressed concern over the state of the pitch at the Fukuoka Stadium and we will have more on that on our Rugby World Cup website shortly.

Robbie Henshaw will take his place in the Ireland starting lineup tomorrow for what will be his belated Rugby World Cup debut and this morning Liam Toland writes about his importance to this Ireland side. “Henshaw is that type of player and boy, do we need him to give our team the direction, energy and focus we’ve been lacking. Many believe he can play 12, 13 and 15 but I feel inside centre (12) is his place,” he writes. Over the last few days Gavin Cummiskey has been spending some time with the Samoan camp as they build up to their World Cup sign-off and a match that could potentially play a huge part in the future of a number of their players. Don’t forget you can follow all of the build-up to Japan with columns, analysis, news, interviews, stats, fixtures and much more on our dedicated 2019 Rugby World Cup site.

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