5 Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For 2nd Test With Australia
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, as expected, made sweeping changes to his Ireland team for this weekend’s 2nd Test with Australia following their defeat in the series opener.
In comes the Leinster contingent of Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose, while there’s also starts for Munster duo Niall Scannell and Andrew Conway.
Tadhg Beirne is also set for his first taste in Test match rugby, with the Munster-bound lock named as part of a strong Ireland replacements bench alongside the likes of Jordan Larmour and Joey Carbery.
Here are five talking points.
The general returns.
Joey Carbery did extremely well in his first big Test match start last Saturday, playing 55 minutes, with Ireland leading when he was replaced. But Sexton is arguably the in-form ten in world rugby right now and brings a certain aura with him. If Ireland are to tie the series this weekend, they need their best players playing – and Sexton is certainly one of them.
Ireland’s scrum was far from its usual dominant self on Saturday, but the return of Cian Healy, the world’s best tighthead Tadhg Furlong and the addition of Munster’s Niall Scannell is bound to sure things up. Scannell’s place in the squad is particularly interesting, with Sean Cronin once again missing out (he’s not even on the bench). But Scannell is perhaps more renowned for his scrummaging than Cronin, and perhaps this why he got the nod.
Release the Beirne.
David Pocock the turnover machine? Meet Tadhg Beirne mate. The former Scarlets forward ran absolute riot in the PRO14 and Champions Cup this season, turning over pretty much everything that moved. Whether he comes on at lock or into the back-row, Beirne is bound upset a few rucks and wreak havoc on the Wallabies.
Toner is in.
Iain Henderson didn’t train fully this week, with Devin Toner taking his place in the second-row. But we reckon their could be even more to this, with Toner one of the best ‘latchers’ in the business. Toner’s incredible size allows him to not only clear out rucks incredibly well, but bash through tackles and latch onto the ball carrier, creating a huge gap between Ireland and the defender. This could be key to preventing David Pocock from winning turnovers.
Jacob Stockdale is another man who didn’t train fully this week, with Andrew Conway taking his place on the wing. Once again this could work to Ireland’s favour, with Conway an absolute freak under the high ball and in the air. Israel Folau dominated the aerial battle last weekend. This weekend he has to contend with the tenacious Conway.