Bundee Aki will head into a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo today to decide his World Cup fate with the backing of old friends from the Samoa camp as Ireland hoped for clemency for their centre ahead of this weekend’s quarter-finals.
With qualification for the knockout phase secured after an Ireland performance more in keeping with what we have come to expect from this squad, the only outstanding issue surrounded the not insignificant detail as to whom Ireland would meet in their quarter-final in Tokyo next weekend.
Vaeluaga Steve Jackson believes his Samoan side will be all the more dangerous a proposition for Ireland this weekend precisely because of the fact that their involvement in this World Cup will end, regardless of the outcome, with the final whistle.
Ireland’s final World Cup pool game against Samoa on Saturday was given the green light by tournament organisers in Tokyo on Thursday morning but the effects of Typhoon Hagibis could still have far-reaching consequences for Joe Schmidt’s team.
Tadhg Furlong likes a bowl of ramen or a parcel of gyoza as much as the next man, but there comes a time when this son of Wexford farming stock hankers for a bit of beef, and he sated that appetite in some style in Fukuoka over the weekend.
Andy Farrell would have happily sacrificed a heavier deficit in the points difference column in exchange for a victory over Japan but if Ireland can return to form this Saturday it will have meant the lessons of that shock defeat have been learned.
And breathe... Nine days will separate yesterday’s highly unsatisfactory defeat of Russia in Kobe and Ireland’s final pool match, against Samoa in Fukuoka, and the sense from the outside looking in is of a squad that should relish the weekend break to come and the chance to switch off from rugby for a bit.