Ireland kick off the international season and Joe Schmidt’s coaching reign by hosting Samoa in the GUINNESS Series opener at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.45pm). You can keep up-to-date with this evening’s Test via our O2 MatchDay Live service right here on IrishRugby.ie.
The Ireland v Samoa clash will be the sixth meeting between the two sides, with the Irish having the upper hand so far with four wins to one.
Their most recent encounter was at the Aviva Stadium in November 2010 when Ireland emerged as 20-10 winners in what was second row Devin Toner’s first cap. Jamie Heaslip, who captains Ireland today, and the now retired Ronan O’Gara were the try scorers.
Prop Jack McGrath will make his debut for Ireland in their latest tussle, while reserve back Dave Kearney will do likewise if he is brought on off the replacements bench.
The game is Joe Schmidt’s first since he took over as Ireland head coach. His Samoan counterpart Stephen Betham has 10 Test matches under his belt, with seven victories and three defeats.
Brian O’Driscoll, the elder statesman of the respective squads at 34, will combine with Gordon D’Arcy in the centre for the 51st time – equalling the record of New Zealand’s Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
Notably, if Samoa score a try against Ireland it will be the 26th consecutive match that they have been over the whitewash. The last time the South Sea Islanders failed to touch down in a match was in 2009 when they lost 24-6 to Italy.
There will be a minute’s silence before kick-off to honour one of the great figures of Samoan rugby, Papali’itele Peter Fatialofa, who sadly passed away earlier this week aged 54.
Captain and loosehead prop for Samoa at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Fatialofa, who was affectionately known as ‘Fats’, played 34 times for his country – he made his debut against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in October 1988.
We will have live text commentary direct from the Aviva Stadium so plug in your laptop or turn on the PC and enjoy a flavour of the game live on IrishRugby.ie.
There will be full live text and score updates throughout the coverage, with our pre-match build-up getting underway at 5.15pm.
The game is being broadcast live on RTÉ Two and BBC Two Northern Ireland, with RTÉ Radio 1 providing live radio commentary. Details of the global broadcasts are available here.
You can feel part of the action on IrishRugby.ie with MatchDay Live – the GUINNESS Series opener kicks off at 5.45pm.
Look out for the MatchDay Live button in the Ireland section or simply click on the link below: