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Ireland set for Fukuoka on Saturday as Hagibis forecasted to veer north

Simon Easterby reports there has been ‘a real edge’ to Ireland’s training this week.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 8th 2019, 11:43 AM

IRELAND ARE PLANNING to play Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday, as scheduled, with the latest forecasts predicting that Typhoon Hagibis’ path will veer north in the direction of Yokohama and Tokyo.

While the super typhoon, currently located in the Western Pacific Ocean, could still have an impact on World Cup games, it looks less likely to hit the island of Kyushu, where Fukuoka is situated.

JMA Japan Meteorological Agency Japan Meteorological Agency

World Rugby has confirmed as much, stating that Hagibis is now “tracking north and east and will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Tokyo and surrounding areas on 12 October.”

While the governing body insisted that “it remains too early to fully predict the movement and impact of the storm,” it underlined that the safety of the public and World Cup teams is its number one priority.

Though fixtures such as England’s clash with France in Yokohama on Saturday 12 October could now be in doubt, concerns that Ireland’s game will have to be moved from Fukuoka are quickly fading.

“By all accounts, things can change reasonably quickly but we are playing here on Saturday against Samoa unless we’re otherwise informed,” said Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby today at their team hotel in Fukuoka.

“That is how we have prepared all week and how we’re still preparing. We may know more later on or tomorrow, but as far as we’re concerned we’re planning to take on Samoa here in Fukuoka.”

Ireland trained again today as their preparations continue, with everyone in their 31-man squad apart from Jordi Murphy taking part. The Ulster back row suffered a rib injury in last Thursday’s win over Russia.

“Jordi has done really well to recover and he has done a bit of running today and yesterday,” said Easterby. “He’s the only one who has missed out on training and he hopes to train on Thursday so we’re in pretty good shape at this stage.”

Easterby was pleased to report that there “has been a real edge” to Ireland’s sessions this week as players compete for starting spots against Samoa and the quarter-final that could follow.

“The scrum session today was tasty, there was a little bit going on in there and that’s what you want. You need those types of sessions and you need that competitive edge. I think this forward pack has that.

france-v-united-states-pool-b-2019-rugby-world-cup-fukuoka-hakatanomori-stadium Adam Davy Ireland are still set to play in Fukuoka on Saturday. Adam Davy

“This week feels different. After Russia, we had a couple of days off and the players had a chance to refresh and recharge their batteries, step away from the rugby for a bit and then yesterday and today, training has been good.

“You can feel a little bit of a change in the mood of the group.”

While the forecasts in Japan appear to change drastically within the space of 24 hours, there is still set to be rain on Saturday in Fukuoka.

That could cause some hassle with the pitch at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, which has cut up noticeably in the two pool games there so far in this World Cup.

“We have looked at that and there is very little you can do about that but it’s certainly something we’re aware of,” said Easterby. “The training pitch we’re on has also cut up a little bit, so maybe that’s good prep.

“After every game, reports go in and if there are any issues, the team that is potentially playing in that venue will raise them prior to the beginning of that week. We can’t do too much about it.

“If we stay in Fukuoka and we play here, we have to deal with the conditions that will present themselves. Both teams have to play on that pitch so let’s hope it doesn’t impact the game too much.”

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