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Rugby World Cup

Henshaw Returns as Ireland Ring Changes

Robbie Henshaw has returned to the Irish line-up for their game with Samoa in what is one of a number of changes to Joe Schmidt’s side



(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has made several changes to his line-up for this Saturday’s crucial Rugby World Cup clash with Samoa in Japan.

Headlining the team announcement is the return of star centre Robbie Henshaw, who will take part in his first game of the tournament in what is a huge boost for Ireland. 

The Leinsterman has been out of action since before the competition started due to a hamstring injury but he makes a timely return with Ireland needing to put in a massive performance if they are to progress to the knock-out stages. 

Elsewhere, Tadhg Beirne remains in the pack, however he has switched from the second-row to blindside flanker, while fellow Munsterman Conor Murray comes in to replace Luke McGrath at scrum-half. 

Keith Earls, Bundee Aki and Johnny Sexton are the only other survivors from the team that defeated Russia 35-0 last week. 

That means that it is business as usual in the front-five with Cian Healy, captain Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong opening in the front-row with Iain Henderson and James Ryan slotting in behind them in the engine-room. 

Beirne is at six and is joined in the back-row by Josh van der Flier, who is on the openside and CJ Stander who takes the No 8 jersey. 

Murray partners Sexton in the half-backs, with Aki retaining his inside-centre position as Henshaw covers the outside. 

Jacob Stockdale features on the left-wing, with Earls moving to the right and Jordan Larmour has another chance to impress from full-back as he replaces Rob Kearney.

On the bench Ireland welcome back Joey Carbery, who has been sidelined with injury in what is another boost for the men in green. 

Despite huge disruption caused by adverse weather conditions in Japan Schmidt has stated that the team remain focused on the task at hand. 

“We’re not really having too many conversations with World Rugby, for us it’s business as usual. There is a distraction, there was a lot of talk among the players at training today but we can’t let that affect us. Any time anything is unknown you get players who are going to talk about it. But we’ve got to make sure the game gets finished with the right result for us,” he said. 

Ireland know that a bonus-point win will secure a top two finish in Pool A and see them through to the quarter-finals, however, depending on what happens when Japan face Scotland the following day, it may or may not be enough to seal top spot. 

Either way Ireland will want to put in a good showing as progression will see them pitted against one of the Springboks or the All Blacks where they will need to be much better than they have been so far this year. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

Jordan Larmour; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander


Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway

Rugby World Cup

Jones Makes Spy Claims After England Training

England head coach Eddie Jones has made some big claims following his side’s training session earlier today



(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has claimed that someone was spying on his team’s training session earlier today in Japan.

Jones’ England are preparing for the biggest game of their Rugby World Cup campaign so far as they face the All Blacks on Saturday. However, Jones has made a claim that someone was filming his side during training but that he has nothing to hide. 

“There was definitely someone in the apartment block (across from the training ground) filming, it might have been a Japanese fan. You just don’t need to do it anymore. You can watch everyone’s training on Youtube. There’s absolutely no value in that anymore. Don’t care, mate. Don’t care. We knew from the start that they were filming and it doesn’t change anything we do. We have two security guards – Prince Harry’s… and the ex-Prime Minister’s. Only those two. Lovely blokes,” he said. 

The Aussie also admitted that he used to spy on team’s years ago but that he doesn’t see the point anymore. 

“We used to do it [secretly film opposition training sessions]. I haven’t done it since 2001. There’s no need. Everyone knows what everyone else does. There are no surprises in world rugby anymore,” he added. 

In a press conference filled with madness from Jones he also stated that most of New Zealand’s media reporters are “fans with keyboards”. 

Jones is known for playing mind-games before matches and has heaped the pressure on the All Blacks saying that his side have nothing to lose while their opposition have the weight of the world on their shoulders and it will be tough for them to be mentally prepared. 

“We don’t have any pressure, mate. No one thinks we can win. There are 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. They [the All Blacks] have got to be thinking, they’re looking for a third straight World Cup, so there will be pressure there. I don’t think they are vulnerable but the pressure is real. The busiest guy for them will be Gilbert Enoka. They will be talking about it the whole week. It’s potentially the last game for their greatest ever coach (Steve Hansen), and for their greatest ever captain (Kieran Read),” he finished. 

England and Jones will need to play the perfect game on Saturday when they take on the All Blacks on Saturday as the Kiwi’s are chasing a third successive Rugby World Cup title and it looks as though Jones will be trying to unsettle them before a ball is even kicked.

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Rugby World Cup

Hansen Explains Read’s Absence at Training

All Blacks captain Kieran Read was nowhere to be seen during the team’s training on Tuesday but head coach Steve Hansen has explained the situation



(Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed that captain Kieran Read did not train with the rest of the squad today as a precaution to an injury he picked up against Ireland on Saturday.

New Zealand are preparing for their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown with England on Saturday and while the rest of the squad were training Read was absent with concerns growing over his availability but Hansen insists that the back-rower will be fit for the last-four clash. 

“There is no issue. You didn’t see him train because he was in the gym on the bike. He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn’t want to put him out on a wet track today. Yeah, 100 per cent,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Hansen has admitted that replacement forward Matt Todd will definitely not be available this weekend due to injury but should be in contention for next weekend. 

“He is making good progress but not fast enough so he won’t be available (for the England game). He should be right if we are lucky enough to play another game next week,” he added. 

With the game seeing two of the games best coaches line-up against each other in Eddie Jones and Hansen, the latter thinks that it would be stupid not to expect his opposite number to have a few tricks up his sleve ahead of the game. 

“We got the same question from the Irish last week. You’ll be naïve as a coach not to expect the opposition to do something different. That is their job. You practise it and you implement it. If it works, you are a superstar and if it doesn’t you’re an idiot. It’s a fine line we live, us coaches,” he finished. 

New Zealand are looking to make it to yet another World Cup final with victory on Saturday as they continue their quest to win three Webb Ellis Cup’s in a row. However, they know that it will be no easy task against an English side in full flight and fans will be hoping their star captain will be available when the teams are announced later in the week.

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Rugby World Cup

Officials Confirmed for RWC Semi-Finals

World Rugby have announced the officials that will take charge of this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals



(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed that Nigel Owens and Jerome Garces will be the referees for this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals at the International Stadium Yokohama in Japan.

Following yesterday’s controversy surrounding South African referee Jaco Peyper, where he was pictured posing with Welsh fans and appeared to be mocking the sending off of France forward Sebastien Vahaamahina, World Rugby confirmed that he was not considered for selection. 

That means that Wales’ Owens will take charge of England’s clash with reigning back to back World Cup holders the All Blacks on Saturday, with French duo of Romain Poite and Pascal Gauzere as his assistants. While South Africa’s Marius Jonker is the TMO. 

Meanwhile French referee Garces will be the man in the middle of Wales’ last four showdown with the Springboks on Sunday, with England’s Wayne Barnes and New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe as his assistants. Fellow Kiwi Ben Skeen will take to role of TMO. 

Speaking on the appointments chairman of World Rugby Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated those selected explaining they are the best in the business. 

“I would like to congratulate Nigel and Jérôme, the assistant referees and TMOs on their selection for the semi-finals. These are the best of the best, supported by a superb team, and we now look forward to compelling semi-finals at International Stadium Yokohama over the weekend,” he said. 

The officials were selected after a review of their performances so far in the tournament as well as making it a neutral selection for each game. As for Peyper it remains to be seen what his full punishment will be following an investigation by World Rugby.

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