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Iain Henderson addresses unconvincing Ireland display against Samoa

By PA
Samoa's scrum-half Jonathan Taumateine passes the ball during the pre-World Cup rugby union test match between Ireland and Samoa on August 26, 2023 at Jean-Dauger stadium in Bayonne. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP) (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Stand-in captain Iain Henderson insists looming World Cup selection was not a factor in Ireland’s underwhelming performance in scraping past Samoa.

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Ireland were far from convincing in rain-soaked Bayonne but ultimately emerged with a 13th consecutive win on the eve of Andy Farrell naming his 33-man squad for France.

Second-half tries from Conor Murray and Rob Herring earned an unconvincing 17-13 success after Samoa battled back to lead following Jimmy O’Brien’s early score.

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Six Ireland players are set for disappointment on Sunday afternoon when Farrell announces his final squad.

Yet Henderson, who skippered a mix-and-match line-up at Stade Jean Dauger, does not feel that situation contributed to a disjointed display which almost ended in an upset.

“No and if it did it’s probably one of the adversities that Faz (Farrell) would like us to be tested by,” said the lock.

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“That’s not the most difficult thing we’re going to face over the next number of weeks.

“It’s an incredibly strong group of guys and the guys who’ve been waiting to find out their fate have probably carried themselves as well as you could have expected them to throughout training.

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“The guys who are nervous about selection, who might be carrying that anxiety have trained well, everyone’s been on time, been as diligent as possible throughout the reviews, staying on top of stuff.

“It’s been a well-prepped Test week for us, so hats off to those guys who’ve been prepping so well.

“I think it’s not that side of things that affected us, it was a handful of other things like conditions, probably great pressure brought by Samoa.”

Head coach Farrell is awaiting injury news on prop Cian Healy.

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Veteran loosehead Healy hobbled off in the first half with help from medical staff due to a calf issue, throwing his participation in a fourth World Cup of his career into doubt.

Henderson, who has endured plenty of his own fitness issues in recent times, empathised with his Ireland team-mate.

“I’ve felt it a handful of times this campaign,” he said.

“It’s worse when it’s a team-mate but even watching other guys from other nations who are looking to play at a World Cup, whether it’s their first, second or third, pick up an injury it’s not nice.

“It’s a crescendo of hard work over four years and to see that pulled away from someone in the dying minutes of that four-year cycle is not nice.

“Again, it’s the game we’ve all signed up to and, again, that’s the reason what we do is so special, it means so much to us because it’s so fragile sometimes.”

Points Flow Chart

Ireland win +4
Time in lead
46
Mins in lead
23
57%
% Of Game In Lead
28%
71%
Possession Last 10 min
29%
0
Points Last 10 min
0
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1 Comment
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Sumkunn Tsadmiova 290 days ago

It was the Ulster players that let Ireland down - Mcloskey, Henderson, Stewart etc. - all routinely useless. Stick to Leinstermen with a POM or Aki added to make it look inclusive

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