Andy Farrell rings the changes as Ireland team named for Samoa clash

Road to France.

Head coach Andy Farrell has named his Ireland team for their final Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Samoa in Bayonne this weekend.

Following wins over Italy and England at Aviva Stadium, the Ireland squad have spent this week in Bayonne to finalise their preparations for Rugby World Cup, with a little over two weeks to go until their tournament opener against Romania in Bordeaux.

Iain Henderson returns to the second row to captain Ireland on Saturday night, having done so against Italy in Dublin at the start of the month.

Jimmy O’Brien, Mack Hansen, and Keith Earls, fresh from winning his 100th Test cap last weekend, start in the back three, with Robbie Henshaw and Stuart McCloskey in midfield. There is an all-Munster half-back pairing as Jack Crowley and Conor Murray start at out-half and scrum-half respectively.

In the pack, Cian Healy and Finlay Bealham are selected on either side of Tom Stewart, who is set for his first Ireland start having made his debut off the bench against Italy. Henderson partners Tadhg Beirne in the engine room, with Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, and Caelan Doris completing the starting XV.

There is a wealth of experience at Farrell’s disposal among the replacements, with Rob Herring, Jeremy Loughman, and Tom O’Toole providing the front-row reinforcements. James Ryan and Peter O’Mahony offer cover in the second and back row, while Craig Casey, Ross Byrne, and Garry Ringrose are the backline options.

Saturday’s match is live on RTÉ2 (ROI) and Amazon Prime (UK and NI).

Ireland (v Samoa):
15. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas)(6)
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians)(15)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers)(64)
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor)(13)
11. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster)(100)
10. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)(5)
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen)(106)

1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf)(124)
2. Tom Stewart (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(1)
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers)(31)
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy)(captain)(73)
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne)(40)
6. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University)(12)
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD)(51)
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(30)


16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(36)
17. Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen)(2)
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch)(10)
19. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD)(54)
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution)(95)
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon)(11)
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD)(20)
23. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD)(51).

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