Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes to the Irish side looking to bounce back from a defeat against Japan when they take on Samoa on Thursday morning.
Jordi Murphy is the only Ulsterman included as he is thrust into action after only being confirmed as a replacement for the injured Jack Conan earlier in the week. Murphy starts at the base of the scrum instead of CJ Stander who is a replacement.
Rory Best and Cian Healy have been given the match off with Dave Kilcoyne and Niall Scannell coming into replace them at loosehead and hooker respectively. Tadhg Furlong is named on the bench with John Ryan starting at tight head. Iain Henderson and James Ryan have been rested with Tadhg Beirne and Jean Kleyn taking their spots in the second row. Peter O’Mahony switches to 7 with Rhys Ruddock included at 6 alongside Murphy at 8.
Luke McGrath and Johnny Sexton are the halfback pairing with Sexton taking the captaincy in the absence of Best. Bundee Aki comes in for Chris Farrell while Garry Ringrose remains in the centre. Jacob Stockdale is rested after playing the opening two matches with Andrew Conway his replacement. Keith Earls starts on the left and Rob Kearney remains at fullback.
Saturday certainly did not go to plan for Joe Schmidt and the defeat leaves Ireland needing results to go their way if they are to top the pool. A win would have made life a little easier, allowing more rotation for what will be a bruising encounter against Samoa next week. Two bonus point wins in the final two games is expected and would secure a quarter final spot for Ireland.
I don’t see Russia posing many questions for Ireland despite benefiting from a nine day rest. However they have not disgraced themselves in their opening two World Cup matches even though they only qualified due to Belgium, Romania and Spain becoming embroiled in a player eligibility scandal.
Two Russians who have impressed me so far in the tournament is back rower Tagir Gadzhiev and scrum half Vasily Dorofeev. While Dorofeev will not feature on Thursday, Gadzhiev will start at eight. He plays for RC Kuban, a professional club in Krasnodar works and was their stand out player in the opening match against Russia. He got through an astounding amount of work in 80 minutes, making eight tackles as well as being his side’s top carrier with 12 runs. He is one of a few players in the tournament to have put himself in the shop window for a lucrative contract in one of the top rugby leagues.
Vasily Artemyev is another key player. The Russian fullback is a veteran with over 90 international appearances and currently plays for Krasny Yar in Krasnoyarsk having moved from Northampton Saints in 2014. He scored nine tries in 33 appearances, spanning three seasons for the East Midlands side. Educated in Blackrock College and University of Dublin, he’s no stranger to Irish Rugby having represented the side at Irish Schools and Irish U19 level.
The FRU predicts: Ireland will have too much quality and should record a bonus point victory as Russia tire in the second half.
|Rob Kearney||15||Vasily Artemyev|
|Garry Ringrose||13||Igor Galinovskiy|
|Bundee Aki||12||Kirill Golosnitskiy|
|Johnny Sexton||10||Ramil Gaisin|
|Luke McGrath||9||Dmitry Perov|
|Dave Kilcoyne||1||Andrei Polivalov|
|Niall Scannell||2||Evgeny Matveev|
|John Ryan||3||Kirill Gotovtsev|
|Jean Kleyn||5||Bogdan Fedotko|
|Rhys Ruddock||6||Anton Sychev|
|Peter O’Mahony||7||Tagir Gadzhiev|
|Jordi Murphy||8||Victor Gresev|
|Andrew Porter||17||Valery Morozov|
|Iain Henderson||19||Andrei Ostrikov|
|CJ Stander||20||Evgeny Elgin|
|Jack Carty||22||Roman Khodin|