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'Incredibly frustrating': Rory Best discusses typhoon havoc at Rugby World Cup as Ulster trio return for Ireland vs Samoa

Captain Rory Best has spoken to media in Fukuoka (Adam Davy/PA)
Captain Rory Best has spoken to media in Fukuoka (Adam Davy/PA)
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland skipper Rory Best has warned his side can't be distracted by the weather havoc elsewhere at the World Cup.

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There was chaos at the tournament today after it was announced by World Rugby that Saturday's France v England clash in Yokohama and the All Blacks against Italy in Toyota would both be cancelled due to the danger posed by Typhoon Hagibis, set to hit central Japan this weekend.

A decision on Scotland against Japan the next day (11.45am kick-off UK-time Sunday), a key game in Ireland's pool, will only be taken on the morning of the kick-off. The super typhoon should be clear of the Yokohama area by that stage but there are fears over the destruction that may be left in its wake.

Should that game be cancelled too, then hosts Japan would be through to the last eight as pool winners, while the Scots would be out assuming Ireland have banked at least one point from their game with Samoa 24 hours earlier.

As is, Ireland will still approach their game in Fukuoka as if they need a full five-point haul to make the last eight.

"It's more frustrating for the English, French, Italians and New Zealanders at the minute," said Best. "Scotland and Japan there's been no decision. From our point of view that's easier, we go out and play our game and assume the game on Sunday will be played. If it doesn't we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"It's incredibly frustrating, there are players in their last World Cups, potentially playing their last games for their country so to be denied that opportunity is frustrating.

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"But decisions won't have been taken lightly."

Coach Joe Schmidt admitted that there was potential for the chaos to become a distraction for his team ahead of what is a hugely important game.

"There was a lot of talk amongst the players post-training today when we found out," he said. "Any time there's anything up in the air, you get players talking about that because its newsworthy and something that is influential. We have to make sure our game gets finished with the right result for us.

"We're just staying on task as much as we can. At training it wasn't an issue, it was only post-training. When we get down for the Captain's Run, we will hopefully be on task. Once you get down to a stadium, it tends to focus the mind.

"It's a situation nobody wanted to have and there are going to be supporters disappointed and certainly players. Some are playing in their last World Cup and there's no bigger game than playing against some of the biggest players in the game and (they're) missing that opportunity so that's disappointing."

While Ireland's team to face Samoa was relegated to the second story of the day, Best, Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson are all back to face the Pacific Islanders

The Ulster trio are part of 11 changes in personnel after Best and Stockdale were both rested when the side beat Russia in Kobe last Thursday when Henderson was used only off the bench. Ireland finish off pool A in Fukuoka knowing a bonus-point win guarantees a place in the last eight regardless of results elsewhere.

The key clash will also see a first outing of the tournament for Robbie Henshaw, restored to the centre with old Connacht running mate Bundee Aki after a hamstring injury has kept him out thus far, while Jordan Larmour gets the nod at full-back, joining Stockdale and Earls in the back-three.

Johnny Sexton starts again, joined again by Conor Murray who was an unused sub last week.

There is no place for Rhys Ruddock with an entirely new loose-forward unit of CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Tadhg Beirne but James Ryan is back alongside Henderson in the second-row.

Up front, Leinster props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong are in situ either side of Best.

Ireland team to face Samoa

J Larmour; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best (c), T Furlong; I Henderson, J Ryan; T Beirne, J van der Flier, CJ Stander.

REPLACEMENTS: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, J Kleyn, P O'Mahony, L McGrath, J Carbery, A Conway

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