Monday 24 September 2018

Ireland-Australia combined XV: Five Wallabies make the cut but Grand Slam champions dominate the team

Jacob Stockdale, Tadhg Furlong and Israel Folau make the team
Jacob Stockdale, Tadhg Furlong and Israel Folau make the team
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Ahead of the first Test between Ireland and Australia on Saturday in Brisbane, we have selected the best combined team from both sides.

15. Israel Folau (Australia)

Despite the controversy over his homophic posts on Instagram, the 29-year-old remains one of the best players on the planet. Ireland's kicking game will need to be as accurate as ever with this man in the back field.

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Israel Folau

14. Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)

The Ulster wing was the Six Nations Player of the Championship and has scored 11 tries in his nine appearances in green. He has firmly established himself as one of the game's great attackers in the last eight months.

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Jacob Stockdale

13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)

His dazzling feet make him a torment for defenders while his rugby intelligence make him a vital defensive cog for Ireland. He can expect a big challenge from Tevita Kuridrani on Saturday.

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Garry Ringrose. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

12. Kurtley Beale (Australia)

The former Wasps centre is certain to start and will provide the spark outside Bernard Foley that Michael Cheika will be hoping can unleash their back three.

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Kurtley Beale

11. Marika Koroibete (Australia)

The Fijian-born Rugby League convert has got some questions marks over his defence but there is no doubting his attacking threat.

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Marika Koroibete

10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

What's left to be said about this man. A series win over the Wallabies would cap an already amazing season.

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Johnny Sexton. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

The Australian media have been lauding Murray's tactical awareness and box-kicking ability all week. Whether they can do anything about it in Brisbane on Sunday remains to be seen. His battle with Will Genia will be keenly watched.

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Conor Murray

8. David Pocock (Australia)

He hasn't played a Test match since 2016 but don't expect him to be rusty. His head-to-head with CJ Stander is another to relish. He spent 2017 on sabbatical, mixing charity work and education with a rugby stint in Japan. Don't expect him to be charitable on Saturday.

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David Pocock

7. Michael Hooper (Australia)

Hooper is arguable the most tenacious player in world rugby. The fact that he is selected ahead of in-form Dan Leavy speaks volumes. Australia's captain and inspirational leader.

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Australia's Michael Hooper

6. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)

Ireland appear to have the edge at the set-piece and O'Mahony will be central to that dominance at lineout time.

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Peter O’Mahony in action during Ireland’s victory against England. Photo: Reuters

5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)

The unfortunate injury to Iain Henderson has left the door open for Beirne to announce himself on the international stage in style after another superb season with the Scarlets.

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Tadhg Beirne. Photo: Sportsfile

4. James Ryan (Ireland)

Still undefeated. We are running out of superlatives for this guy. His professional record is 23-0 but how crucial he has been in those 23 victories is even more impressive than the number itself.

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James Ryan

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

The best tighthead in the world right now. He'll be expected to dominate the scrum and few would back against the Wexford native delivering on those expectations.

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Leinster's Tadhg Furlong. Photo: Sportsfile

2. Sean Cronin (Ireland)

Brandon Paenga-Amosa  looks primed to debut against Ireland with the Wallabies enduring an injury crisis at hooker. Cronin has enjoyed a terrific campaign with Leinster and his throwing has been impeccable.

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Sean Cronin of Leinster. Photo: Sportsfile

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)

Sekope Kepu is a world class ball-handling prop but Healy gets the nod for his ferocity in the loose and his physicality at scrum time.

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Cian Healy. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

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