Rugby | Henshaw returns as Ireland ring changes for Samoa clash

Robbie Henshaw is set to make his first appearance of the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Samoa on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt has made 12 changes in total for Ireland’s final Pool A encounter in Fukuoka – which will thankfully go ahead despite weather concerns in Japan – with Conor Murray and Rory Best also returning to the starting lineup.

Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls and Tadhg Beirne are the sole survivors from the whitewash win against the Russians.

Henshaw will partner Bundee Aki in the centre, with Garry Ringrose dropping out of the team.

Captain Best joins familiar faces Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong in the front row, while Iain Henderson and James Ryan are preferred in the second row.

Beirne retains his place, and is named alongside Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander in the back row.

Murray and Sexton will start together in the half backs for the 55th time, equaling Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara’s record as the most prolific halfback partnership in the history of Irish rugby.

Jordan Larmour will start at full back, with Rob Kearney ruled out of the matchday squad following his injury in the 35-0 win over Russia last time out.

Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale line up on the wings.

Joey Carbery is once again among the replacements, with Andrew Porter, Jean Kleyn, Niall Scannell, Peter O’Mahony, Luke McGrath and Dave Kilcoyne joining him in reserve.

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

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