5 Talking Points Ahead Of Ireland’s First Test With The Wallabies

Opening Test.

Ireland and Australia will lock horns tomorrow morning (11am) in one of the most anticipated Irish summer tours in recent memory. Joe Schmidt’s men have been firing on all cylinders since last summer and will quietly fancy a series win.

But head coach Joe Schmidt has made a few big decisions with his starting line-up. There’s no Johnny Sexton, Dan Leavy or Tadhg Furlong despite their incredible form this season.

The Ireland boss has gone with Joey Carbery at ten, and he’s also left Garry Ringrose out in favour of a Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw partnership. And after such a long (and incredibly successful) season, just how much do Ireland have left in the tank?

Here are five talking points ahead of the battle of Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

Joey Carbery’s big chance.
Johnny Sexton will have to make do with a spot on the bench this weekend with Munster-bound Joey Carbery handed the reigns at ten. It’s without doubt the biggest game of the youngster’s career to date. Can he handle the pressure and make the big step-up?

Carbery has been limited to mostly cameos off to the bench for Ireland to date and being thrown into the cauldron on such a big Test may be too much of an ask. Schmidt has challenged him to go out and ‘boss’ it and Conor Murray will help shepherd him. But either way – the spotlight will be on Carbery tomorrow morning. Is he up to the Test?

Testing the depth.
A lot has been said about Ireland’s strength-in-depth in recent months. The likes of Cian Healy, Dan Leavy, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong have been either left out of the squad, or will offer impact from the bench. If Ireland can get a win against the Wallabies on Australian soil without these guys in their starting line-up, then it’s time to start recognising this Ireland team as a real force to be reckoned with. If they lose it won’t be the end of the world, but a win would lay a serious marker down to the likes of the All Blacks and England.

Which Australian team will show up?
Michael Cheika is boosted by the return of David Pocock and the Aussie Super Rugby teams have started well in Super Rugby this season after a disastrous campaign last time round. But what Australia team will show up?

In the last 12 months we’ve seen them well-beaten at home by Scotland, but in that same time-frame they beat the All Blacks (the last team to do so). Which Wallaby team will we see tomorrow morning? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Israel Folau.
The outspoken fullback will wear Wallaby yellow for the first time since his controversial comments about homosexuals. How will the fans react to him? Will it affect his game? Australia are a proud nation who recently unanimously vote for same-sex marriage. Will they turn on one of their own?

The streak.
Ireland are currently on a 12-game unbeaten streak after an incredible season. With their clean sweep in November, along with the Grand Slam and Leinster’s unprecedented Champions Cup and PRO14 win – these lads have almost forgotten what it feels like to lose (James Ryan is yet to taste defeat as a professional). Joe Schmidt as per usual has been playing things down, but these lads will quietly fancy a 3-0 series victory. And the best part is – they’re more than capable of achieving that. If they pick up where they left off in the Six Nations, the Wallabies won’t know what him them.

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