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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Samoa

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Samoa

A much-changed team will go in search of Ireland’s first win in five Test matches when they clash with Samoa at the Aviva Stadium. Declan Kidney’s men are determined to bounce back from a disappointing debut at the redeveloped ground last weekend.

2010 GUINNESS SERIES TEST MATCH: Saturday, November 13

IRELAND v SAMOA, Aviva Stadium, 2.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two Northern Ireland)

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Team News: Devin Toner will win his first senior cap for Ireland in the second row this Saturday against Samoa as one of 11 changes, including a positional switch, to the starting team that played against South Africa.

Toner will be partnered by the experienced Donncha O’Callaghan, who this week signed a new three-year Ireland international contract.

They will be supporting a new front row of Tom Court, Sean Cronin and John Hayes who are all selected to start. The 37-year-old Hayes becomes Ireland’s oldest Test cap.

Denis Leamy and Sean O’Brien have been called into the back row, with Jamie Heaslip retaining the number 8 jersey. It will be O’Brien’s first Test start.

Luke Fitzgerald makes the switch from wing to full-back, with Andrew Trimble coming into the vacant left wing position.

Paddy Wallace also comes into the team at inside centre to partner captain Brian O’Driscoll, and Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer, both used as replacements against South Africa, will form Ireland’s starting half-back combination for the 55th time.

The replacements bench was finalised after training on Thursday and includes five players who got game-time against the Sprinboks – Rory Best, Cian Healy, Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Ferris and Jonathan Sexton.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s GUINNESS Series Test, debutant Toner said: “I’m delighted to be selected…over the moon. I’m just excited now and can’t wait for the game.

“I found out yesterday (Monday) when the team was announced. i wasn’t told beforehand, so i got a bit of a shock.

“I’ve been involved in Irish squads before. You’re always kinda hoping to get selected. When I saw the four games for this series, I was hopeful (of getting a first cap).

“I’m very pleased to get the call and just looking forward to playing now.”

The 24-year-old lock, who stands at 6ft 10in tall, has played 50 times for Leinster. He was part of the Ireland ‘A’ team that won the Churchill Cup in Denver last year.

Meanwhile, the selected Samoa team boasts a wealth of experience at the highest level with eight of the starting line-up playing in either the French Top 14 Championship or the English Premiership.

In the back-line, Samoa have two powerful wingers in Wasps’ David Lemi and Alesana Tuilagi, who played for Leicester Tigers in the 2009 Heineken Cup final against Leinster.

Inside centre Seilala Mapusua will be well known to Ireland as he played for London Irish in the recent Heineken Cup pool match against Munster.

Mapusua will be relying on out-half Tasesa Lavea, another player with considerable experience in the Heineken Cup and French Championship with his club Clermont Auvergne, to supply him with attacking opportunities.

The side is captained by hooker Mahonri Schwalger, who plays his rugby with New Zealand province Taranaki and is part of a front row which also has English Premiership experience in prop Sakaria Taulafo.

Number 8 George Stowers, who also plays for London Irish in the Premiership, anchors a pack chocful of players, with the exception of former Connacht star Ofisa Trevarinus, who currently play in either the New Zealand provincial competitions or in Europe.

Samoa opened their tour of Ireland and the UK with a 26-22 defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground last Tuesday.

Simon, Lemalu, Junior Poluleuligaga and Jamie Helleur, who all started that game, have been included amongst the replacements for the Ireland Test, along with ex-Connacht centre Gavin Williams.

Steve Fualau has been drafted in as the reserve hooker, following Ti’i Paulo’s citing for two incidents of foul play during the Connacht game.

Sailosi Tagicakibau (injured), Henry Tuilagi (suspended) and Census Johnston (family bereavement) are notable absentees from the travelling party.

* Tickets are available from the IRFU offices at 10-12, Lansdowne Road on the day of the game right up until kick-off at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced at €;50 for adults and €;20 for school children.

IRELAND: Luke Fitzgerald; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Tom Court, Sean Cronin, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Devin Toner, Denis Leamy, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Rory Best, Cian Healy, Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Ferris, Isaac Boss, Jonathan Sexton, Keith Earls.

SAMOA: Paul Williams; David Lemi, George Pisi, Seilala Mapusua, Alesana Tuilagi; Tasesa Lavea, Kahn Fotualii; Sakaria Taulafo, Mahonri Schwalger (capt), Anthony Perenise, Filipo Lavea Levi, Kane Thompsen, Ofisa Trevarinus, Manaia Salavea, George Stowers.

Replacements: Steve Fualau, Simon Lemalu, Iosefa Tekori, Afa Aiono, Junior Poluleuligaga, Gavin Williams, Jamie Helleur.

Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Television Match Official: Geoff Warren (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 1/33; Draw: 45/1; Samoa to win: 10/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – “Of course we are conscious of the run of defeats. Reference has been made to it by ourselves and it’s definitely in our thoughts, but at the same time there’s nothing we can do about the four Test defeats.

“We can only focus on Samoa tomorrow and right the wrongs of the previous few games when we’ve let ourselves down.

“In the early years it used to be about playing for Ireland, now it’s about winning for Ireland. Playing is not good enough any more – you must experience those good feelings of what it’s like in the dressing room when you’ve won a tough Test match.

“We haven’t as much footage of Samoa as we would have other teams but if you get your own game right and implement it right you feel you are a long way down the road towards winning the game.

“That’s the philosophy we’ve adopted this week, just trying to really focus on correcting the areas where we went wrong last week, trying to put that right.

“Maybe simplifying things a little bit and trying to hold on to the ball a little bit, it’s a lot easier playing with the ball than without it.

“I don’t think you can turn the ball over as many times as we did last weekend and expect to win against any team in the world.

“We have to be able to take teams through a few more phases, but at the same time, depending on what the conditions offer tomorrow, being able to play those conditions as smartly as we can.”

Fuimaono Tafua (Samoa coach) – “Our selection is based on the players available, not only from New Zealand but also the players that play their rugby here in Europe.

“We want to play the best we can. Ireland are one of the best teams, we have to be prepared for that. They played well last week and they had a chance to beat South Africa.”

Pre-Match Links –

Kidney Targets Strong Start

Irish Rugby TV: Tom Court

Leamy Determined To Put In ‘Big Performance’

O’Driscoll: Changes Show Strength Of The Squad

Head-To-Head: Ireland v Samoa

Previous Meetings –

October 29, 1988 – Tour Match – Ireland 49 Samoa 22, Lansdowne Road
November 12, 1996 – Tour Match – Ireland 25 Samoa 40, Lansdowne Road
November 11, 2001 – Autumn Test – Ireland 35 Samoa 8, Lansdowne Road
June 20, 2003 – Summer Test – Samoa 14 Ireland 40, Apia

Ireland v Samoa: IRFU Stats Vault

Related Links –

Click here to get Andrew Trimble at 7/1 to score the first try and a free €;20 bet, courtesy of Paddy Power Bookmakers