Joe Schmidt left one of his best pre-planned moves until late in the day of his Ireland tenure. 

Known for his attention to detail and ability to spot opponents' weaknesses he has consistently produced a clever switch-move or trick play at the right time.

CJ Stander against England in 2018, Jacob Stockdale against New Zealand, Rob Kearney’s try against Russia last week was a familiar friend.

But the pre-planned move that came after that match was one of the best. 

It was along these lines: if we win with the bonus point we are, to a man, to give the impression that everything is rosy in the garden, nothing to see here. 

It needed every man to know their role and execute to perfection.

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It started with Johnny Sexton’s post-match interview when he said the team were "back on the horse" after a horrific fall against Japan.

Peter O’Mahony said that Russia were a "quality outfit" and he was "happy with the performance". The rest of the team trotted out something similar but it all seemed strikingly at odds with what most neutrals had observed.

Twice Schmidt was asked to elaborate on areas of concern and twice he decided to ignore the questions.

Still, the move must have served some purpose, positive thinking and all that.

As for that horse, he’s grazing a couple of fields over but Ireland have an opportunity to catch up.

If Eddie Jones felt that the 'typhoon gods' had smiled down on him affording England an extra week to prepare for a quarter-final clash with Australia or Wales, then Schmidt must have felt something similar.

The team, the Grand Slam champions and conquerors all who came before them in 2018, desperately need another game to rid the system, in so far as possible, of the Shizuoka shock.

The boss would have heaved a sigh of relief when Super Typhoon Hagibis veered away from Fukuoka.

If Ireland get through, automatically with a bonus-point win, or via the Japan-Scotland result going their way, they will have either a seven or eight-day turnaround to a quarter-final with New Zealand or South Africa.

"I think it's always an advantage to get a longer lead-in," said Schmidt yesterday.

Trying to get one over on the back-to-back champions or the power and might of the Springboks off the back of the Japan loss and the laboured win over Russia, with a two-and-a-half week lay-off, with certain key players in need of match minutes, would have been far from ideal.


No, this is a game Ireland need, and need to win in impressive fashion.

"Getting the performance is all important in terms of clearing the cobwebs and getting rid of the doubts that were there due to the sort of unforced errors, poor handling errors and inability to retain possession that were highlights of the games against Japan and Russia," said former Ireland captain and manager Donal Lenihan.

Schmidt, who will step down following Ireland’s last game, has made 11 changes to the team that beat Russia 35-0 and in come the big guns.

Rory Best, James Ryan and Conor Murray are back, while Robbie Henshaw (below) sees action for the first time since the Wales warm-up game in Dublin on 7 September.

Johnny Sexton also starts at out-half in a back-line that is probably only missing Kearney at full-back from what would be considered 'full strength’.

Meanwhile, Samoa coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson has made just two changes to his side, who top the indiscipline charts with four yellows and a red.

Loose-head prop Logovii Mulipola and second-row Teofilo Paulo return to the line-up having missed the 38-19 defeat to Japan. They come in for Jordan Lay and Piula Faasalele.

This week former Samoa 7s international Henry Bryce told RTÉ Sport: "Samoa are hurting big time.

"They are going to give everything for this last game, they are going to throw everything in.

"This is the last throw of the dice to pick themselves up and be remembered in this World Cup."

Five of their players are out of contract and looking for new clubs.

"We want to knock over one of the top teams in the world – we are not here to make up the numbers," Jackson said.

"We have nothing to lose. It’s the last time this group will be together. We are still playing for pride."

Samoa have only beaten Ireland once, that coming in 1996 in Lansdowne Road (above), while the Irish have prevailed in the five other games.

The state of the pitch is not going to help the quality of the game with images of the players being able to lift up the recently re-laid turf and hide a ball under the grass doing the rounds.

World Rugby said: "While the look of the turf may not be perfect, as would be expected with a very recent installation, we are confident that the pitch will perform superbly."

The Ireland players said the surface is rock hard and with rain due in the area what happens to the pitch is anyone’s guess with no "robust contingency programme" apparently in place. 

Ireland are fast running out of road. Nothing less than a slick, confident, bonus-point win will suffice.

With that the team can keep the engine ticking over for the seven or eight days before the quarter-final and have their shot at making history.

Stumbling past Samoa into the path of a juggernaut in the shape of the All Blacks or Springboks doesn’t bear thinking about.

Verdict: Ireland to win with bonus point 

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, Jean Kleyn, Peter O'Mahony, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway. 

Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Ah See Tuala, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polataivao; Logovii Mulipola, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Le'aupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (capt).

Replacements: Ray Niuia, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Tusi Pisi, Kieron Fonotia.

Referee: Nic Berry (Aus)

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Follow Ireland v Samoa on Saturday 12 October (kick-off 11.45am) via the live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the News Now App, watch live on RTÉ2 or listen to live match commentary on RTÉ 2fm.