All the team news, stats and quotes ahead of this series decider set in Sydney
Australia v Ireland Preview
Things are finely poised as the Test rugby roadshow pulls into Sydney. An Irish win would see them take a series in Australia for the first time since 1979, but injuries have forced Joe Schmidt to make changes to his side.
Neither team have pulled away in the previous encounters, with game one (an 18-9 Wallabies win) and game two (a 26-21 Irish victory) tight to the very end. However, there have been certain themes running throughout.
The scrapping at the breakdown has been brutal. With Australia’s breakaway duo of Michael Hooper and David Pocock causing mischief, Ireland threw bodies at the Wallabies all the way through the second Test, particularly with ball in hand. However, both sides will need to look at their discipline this week.
It has been thrilling, though. And while so many Irish eyes are on Pocock, Kurtley Beale is threading together so much of what the Wallabies do in attack.
Oh, and it might be worth watching Tadgh Furlong’s output. After an imperious display in the second Test, many are already talking the tighthead up as a future all-time great. Whatever you think, he’ll be key on Saturday…
What’s the big team news?
Injuries to Andrew Conway (wing), Garry Ringrose (centre) and Dan Leavy (flanker) means that a few changes are needed for Ireland.
No 8 Jack Conan coming in means that CJ Stander and skipper Peter O’Mahony are on the flanks. Jacob Stockdale is reinstated to the win and Bundee Aki partners Robbie Henshaw in the centres.
Hooker Sean Cronin comes in for his first start of this series, with loosehead Jack McGrath replacing Cian Healy in the starting line-up.
Australia have also shuffled their pack, with No 8 Caleb Timu falling out of the 23. Pocock goes to No 8, with Lukhan Tui getting his first start of the series, at six.
However, much will come down to how Nick Phipps performs at nine. He has replaced Will Genia who went off with a broken arm in the first half last week – head coach Michael Cheika was certainly not impressed by the hit put on the dummy-running Genia by Healy, when he hurt himself.
What have the coaches said?
Joe Schmidt teed things up nicely, immediately after Ireland’s second-Test win, saying of a decider: “It is going to massive, absolutely massive. If we can pull this one off, it will be a little bit special for this group.”
Meanwhile, counterpart Michael Cheika has spoken of attack the Irish, saying: “You can’t win finals without scoring tries and playing footy, I’m a true believer in that.
“They did well last week to restrict us from doing that and we’ll be looking to try and open up this week. I think we have in all the games – with a bit more success in others – but the last thing you do when the finals come is shrink, you want to go out there and play.”
Any interesting statistics?
32 – If Ross Byrne comes off the bench to earn his first cap, it means Schmidt will have used all 32 members of his touring squad.
3 – It’s been almost three years since Australia won a Test in Sydney, beating New Zealand 41-13 in August of 2015.
27 – The number of penalties last week. There were also three yellow cards.
13 – The number of points Ireland scored last week while Marika Koroibete was in the sin-bin.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
This match will be played at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Kick-off is at 11am and will be shown live on Sky Sports Action.
Pascal Gauzere of France is the referee for this one.
What are the line-ups?
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Jack Conan .
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Jordi Murphy, Kieran Marmion, Ross Byrne, Jordan Larmour.
Australia: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete; Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Tui, Michael Hooper (capt), David Pocock.
Replacements: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Pete Samu, Joe Powell, Reece Hodge.