Thursday 26 April 2018

Australia names team for weekend clash with Ireland

Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has made three changes to his forward division for the Wallabies Guinness Series clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

Tatafu Polota-Nau returns from injury to take a place on the bench while blindside flanker Scott Fardy, prop Sekope Kepu and lock Rob Simmons come into the team in the only changes to the starting XV from Australia’s 50-20 victory over Italy last weekend.

McKenzie is hoping that the new faces in the Australian engine room will help them get the edge in the battle of the breakdown.

“The breakdown is always a key area to any game, but Ireland has been especially vocal this week on the importance they are placing on attacking us there,” said Ewen McKenzie.

“It will be important for us to be extremely accurate at the breakdown, but overall we’ve gone with a forward pack that is quite capable of dominating in that area, especially with one of our best operators in Scott Fardy coming back from injury.

“We’ll be looking forward to the challenge and also to the opportunity of building some momentum by winning back-to-back games for the first time this year. It will also be exciting to see Tatafu back.  He’s in very good physical shape and has worked hard since joining us for the Spring Tour to pick-up the knowledge and detail of how we want to play the game.”

Will Genia and Quade Cooper continue to orchestrate the backline which is unchanged for the third straight game as Australia look for their first win on Irish soil since 2005.

“It’s pleasing that we are beginning to build strong combinations and partnerships in our backs, including those players on the bench and on the fringes, and we’re expecting the more time they spend together the better they will be,” he added.

“They’ve been able to find the try line quite a bit over the past month and you can sense they are feeling more comfortable and confident in each other and how we want to play the game. Still, we’re under no illusion that these games are won up-front, and we’ll continue to have high expectations that our forwards will provide us with a strong platform from which to play from.”

Australia team to face Ireland: (15-9) Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, (8-1) Ben Mowen (capt), Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, James Slipper.

Replacements: (16-23) Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sitaleki Timani, Liam Gill, Nic White, Christian Leali'ifano, Joe Tomane.

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