I reached out to some mates in Dublin for their opinions of the Brisbane game and their forecast for Saturday’s game in Melbourne.
They told me that the guys at their rugby pub, steadily sinking the black stuff, were naturally about losing Game 1 but were full of grudging praise for the Wallabies, namely David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale – and those who hadn’t watched much Super Rugby were amazed at Israel Folau’s aerial skills.
They were a little miffed at Joe Schmidt for not fielding a stronger team because now the pressure’s on them to save the series. They have to play catch up rugby, and that can engender mistakes. But they’ve put the loss behind them and are feeling confident knowing that their best squad will run out under AAMI Park’s domes.
But what is their best squad? What’s their best starting 15?
There were many opinions, but the consensus was Dan Levy, a handful at six foot three and 106 kilograms, will come in at flanker, and the athletic Tadgh Beirne, six foot six and 107 kilograms, will also slot into the back row to give the Wallabies competition at the breakdown.
(Albert Perez/Getty Images)
They reckon Schmidt will attack the Aussie lineout by starting Dev Toner, the human stilt, in the engine room. At six foot 11 and 130 kilograms, he’s a great lineout thief and almost impossible to beat on own throw.
In addition, the Irish feel that the Wallabies backs aren’t the only ones who can run the ball. They feel their backs will have a shiny new look with Johnny Sexton and Garry Ringrose starting and very possibly young flier Jordan Larmour in for an out-of-sorts Rob Kearney.
Some of the older, slower drinkers were more concerned with how Ireland will adapt to the Aussie style displayed at Suncorp. They doubt that Michael Cheika will come up with any surprises, and if they’re right, then Joe Schmidt’s the one who’ll say, “Hey presto!” and pull something new out of his top hat. Does Cheika know what that will be? We’ll find out in the first 20 minutes.
Anyway, stay away, rain. Let’s hope referee Paul Williams gives both sides a fair shake and that the other Kiwi, television match official Ben Skeen, will restrict himself to answering Mr Williams’s questions.
The fate of the series was in the balance until the very last play of the game. If Bernard Foley’s pass had reached its target, the Wallabies would have scored a try to win the series; but the ball didn’t go to hand, and Ireland took the Lansdowne trophy back home instead.
The loss of the series to Ireland could be the defeat the Wallabies needed to have, provided the right lessons are learnt from it by Michael Cheika. The main lesson (and there are several others) is that the Wallabies need a world class playmaker at number 10.
Well – the Wallabies’ three-match series against Ireland is at an end, and the July international window is over. But before we get back to Super Rugby, we’d like to know what you made of Australia’s peformance.