Five Predictions For Australia v Ireland
Ahead of their three-Test series in Australia, we bring you our five predictions for the upcoming internationals between the Wallabies and Ireland.
Australian breakdown supremacy: Expect the Aussies to be a serious nuisance at the breakdown with David Pocock returning from his sabbatical to form a lethal combination with Michael Hooper in this area of the game. Pocock has been in fine form for the Brumbies of late and likewise Hooper for the Waratahs, who has thrived since being given the armband by Michael Cheika. If these two can secure front-foot ball for their side, there are potent outside backs for the Wallabies who will flourish if given the chance. If the game becomes a tight, forwards game that in turn starves the Wallaby backline, it will conversely suit the Irish.
Tadgh Beirne and James Ryan to shine: Munster-bound Beirne has made a huge impression at Scarlets, even winning the Champions Cup Try of the Year gong with his spectacular effort to sidestep Bath’s Anthony Watson. The prospect of Beirne and Leinster’s James Ryan linking up at some point in this series is definitely a mouth-watering one. Ryan has shone on one of the biggest stages of them all already this season, putting in a man-of-the-match performance against Racing 92 in the Champions Cup final. What is frightening for the Wallabies is that Ryan is already one of the best in the world and only 21. He’s also yet to taste defeat.
Get set for a clash of styles: The Irish will, as usual, employ a tight, forwards-based game in which they rely heavily on the tactical kicking of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton. The Wallabies meanwhile will look to stretch the Irish defence at the first opportunity by playing an expansive game and unleashing their potent outside backs. Israel Folau is well-suited at full-back to deal with the aerial bombardment from Murray and Sexton and launch counter-attacks for the Wallabies – having proven imperious under the high ball this season for the Waratahs.
Targeting the scrum-half: Seven years ago, Ireland claimed a shock victory over Australia in the pool stage of the 2011 World Cup, which would ultimately set the Wallabies on a collision course with the Springboks and then the All Blacks, which would turn out to prove a bridge too far for the men in gold. On that day, the Irish mercilessly targeted Will Genia, who found himself with very little time on the ball. Genia has been vocal in the media this week, saying he won’t make the same mistake of underestimating the Irish again and this time looks to be preparing himself for a war of attrition.