Summer tours: Australia v Ireland Preview for Match One
It’s the dawn of the new International season for the southern hemisphere sides and the Wallabies have the arduous task of welcoming Six Nations Grand Slammers Ireland.
The last time Australia faced Ireland the lost 27-24 at the Aviva Stadium. Of more concern for them is their 2017 form – they won only 50% of their Tests last season.
Ireland come in with serious form, however Leinster’s heroics at the end of the club season – they won an unprecedented double of the Champions Cup and the Guinness Pro14 – means that some changes have been wrung by boss Joe Schmidt.
What’s the big team news?
Ireland have made some surprising changes. Joey Carbery is entrusted at ten, with Johnny Sexton on the bench. With the young man running the back-line, Robbie Henshaw comes in at centre in place of the 13-cap Garry Ringrose.
Rob Herring is picked at hooker ahead of Sean Cronin and John Ryan is selected at tighthead. With the absence of Rory Best, Peter O’Mahony has been chosen to captain the side from the back row.
Australia have named three debutants for the Test. Hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, No 8 Caleb Timu start (with Timu’s selection moving David Pocock to six) while back-row breakaway Pete Samu is on the bench – the Crusaders star was part of a tug of war between the Australian and New Zealander unions, but has now been cleared to play.
What have the coaches said?
Australia head coach Michael Cheika said: “They’re the best team Ireland’s had since the start of their rugby history.
“They’re coming down here as number two in the world. They can claim they’re underdogs as much as they like but they’re certainly going to be the favourites when they go off the back of the season they’ve had.”
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “One of the challenges we set for Joey is that he’s got to boss it. He’s in that pivotal link for most of what we’re doing so he’s got to boss that.
“At the same time we’ve challenged Robbie and Bundee to help him as best they can because if they can do a little bit of that work for him and take a little bit of that pressure off him, I think it’s going to be advantageous for Joey. It’ll free him up to act rather than to think all the time.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Ireland are on a 12-match winning streak, with their last win against England. Their last loss was against Wales.
- The Wallabies win percentage at the Suncorp (also known as Lang Park) is 73%. Their last match there was a Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks.
- 12 of Ireland’s match-day squad were part of Leinster’s double-winning side.
- Although Israel Folau has 12 tries in his last ten games, he has not scored a try against Ireland in three attempts.
When does it kick off and is it on TV?
The game is being played at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane which has a capacity of around 52, 500. It will be shown on Sky Sports Main Event from 10.45am, with an 11am kick-off.
What are the line-ups?
AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau; Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Pett; Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Caleb Timu.
Replacements: Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge.
IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony (captain), Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Johnny Sexton, Jordan Larmour.