There were only five penalties in rugby league’s Origin 1 on Wednesday night, but buckle up for 25-30 penalties at Suncorp tomorrow night through the whistle of Marius van der Westhuizen.
The South African has control of the first of three Tests between the Wallabies and Ireland that brings in two of the world’s best rugby sharpshooters head-to-head – Wallaby Bernard Foley, and Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton.
Foley has chalked up 543 points from 55 Tests, at an average of 9.87 points a game, while Sexton has scored 683 points from 79 for an 8.64 average.
The breakdown shows the Wallabies are more likely to score tries, with Foley converting 106, to Sexton’s 88.
But Sexton clearly leads the successful penalty count by landing 150 to Foley’s 86.
With van der Westhuizen a renowned penalty giver, that stat should prove to the Wallabies to remain disciplined tomorrow night, or pay the penalty – literally.
Penalties aside, tomorrow night will be the perfect litmus test to see how the Wallabies are shaping up.
Ireland were mighty impressive in capturing the 2018 Six-Nations, taking the men in green to world number two behind the men in black.
The Wallabies are ranked four behind England, and with hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, backrower Caleb Timu, and benchman Peter Samu all set to make their international debuts, there are three new Wallaby faces with the rugby world at their feet.
It’s a changing world with Paenga-Amosa and Timu both Auckland born, but became Wallabies via vastly different backgrounds – Paenga-Amosa was a garbo, Timu a Bronco.
But both have physical clout – Paenga-Amosa’s 183 cms and 117 kgs, Timu 190 and 117.
How consistently Paenga-Amosa finds his lineout men, and how smoothly Timu links with David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the backrow will both be critical.
There’s no doubt the Wallabies can upset Ireland, providing they are disciplined, retain possession, and tackle to let the high quality backs cut loose.
Once Will Genia, Foley, Kurtley Beale, and Samu Kerevi set up a rampaging Israel Folau by either slick passing, or kick passing, Ireland won’t know what’s hit them.
The knockers will say the Wallabies are far too hot and cold to beat such a quality side, and in many ways they are right.
But when the Wallabies pull on a gold jersey, you expect them to play up to, or near their best which is good enough to win.
Anything less, then punt the offenders to find those who will do the job they are very well paid to do.
Come tomorrow night, let it be golden.