Date: Saturday 13th Australia
Kick off: 14:30
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
After last week’s disappointing performance against South Africa, It’s a pretty safe selection from Kidney knowing that he has to win this match ahead of the showdown with New Zealand next week. Since Ireland have lost the last 4 games on the trot, Kidney has not been able to make as many changes to his side as he probably would have liked with Ireland desperately seeking a win.
Luke Fitzgerald starts this game at fullback after indicating at the start of the season he would be challenging his teammate Rob Kearney for the number 15 shirt. It’s Fitzgerald’s first cap at fullback for Ireland having previously spent his time on the wing and partnering Brian O’Driscoll in the center. Kidney has also given the in-form Andrew Trimble the nod ahead of Keith Earls on the wing.
The half-backs are last weekend’s heroes, Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer. A lot of talk during the week has been whether Kidney should have tried pairing Jonny Sexton with Peter Stringer, but this is one area where Kidney has chosen the safer option rather than experiment.
Leinster’s Sean O’Brien comes in for David Wallace’s spot in the back row, and in the second row the 6’10” Devin Toner (pictured) replaces Mick O’Driscoll. Both O’Brien and Toner will be looking to impress the Irish boss this weekend with one eye on a starting place in the New Zealand game next weekend.
In the front-row Kidney has gone for the experienced John Hayes, and I would expect to see Mike Ross come off the bench in the second half. An exciting change is the introduction of Sean Cronin at hooker. Cronin has has a superb start to his season at Connacht, scoring a number of tries, and his speed will be a huge benefit for Ireland.
Samoa were beaten by Connacht 26-22 in a warm-up game during the week, but there are no survivors of that side named in the starting line-up for Saturday.
There are quite a few players that will be familiar to rugby fans in Europe. Wasps’ David Lemi and ex-Leicester Tiger Alesana Tuilagi take up the two wing spots. London Irish centre Seilala Mapusua will be familiar to Munster fans after his recent Heineken Cup pool game, and he will be linking up with Clermont out-half Tasesa Lavea.
Samoan hooker Mahonri Schwalger is the captain on Saturday partnered in the front row by Wasps’ prop Sakaria Taulafo. Finally, London Irish back-row George Stowers is playing along side former Connacht player Ofisa Trevarinus.
SportGuru prediction statistics: Ireland 98.56%, Samoa 1.3%, Draw 0.14%
Prediction: An optimistic 10 point victory for Ireland!
15 – Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 – Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
11 – Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
9 – Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
1 – Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
2 – Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
3 – John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 – Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
6 – Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
7 – Sean O’Brien (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
15 – Paul Williams (Clermont Auvergne)
14 – David Lemi (London Wasps)
13 – George Pisi (Taranaki)
12 – Seilala Mapusua (London Irish)
11 – Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
10 – Tasesa Lavea (Clermont Auvergne)
9 – Kahn Fotualii (Canterbury)
1 – Sakaria Taulafo (London Wasps)
2 – Mahonri Schwalger (Taranaki) (capt)
3 – Anthony Perenise (Hawke’s Bay)
4 – Filipo Lavea Levi (Newcastle Falcons)
5 – Kane Thompsen (Southland)
6 – Ofisa Trevarinus (Malie, Samoa)
7 – Manaia Salavea (Narbonne)
8 – George Stowers (London Irish)