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Maybe we needed this Australia wake-up call - Stander

 

CJ Stander poses for a portrait after an Ireland Rugby Press Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
CJ Stander poses for a portrait after an Ireland Rugby Press Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor in Melbourne

CJ Stander believes Ireland were in need of a wake-up call at the end of their unbeaten season.

And the Munster back-row is expecting a response from the Grand Slam winners as they look to level the Test series against Australia with a win in Melbourne on Saturday morning.

He says significant improvements are needed against a Wallabies side who put the tourists under severe pressure in the Brisbane opener last weekend.

But, having received the shock of a first defeat in 13 matches, the No 8 is determined to turn things around.

"We've had a great campaign the whole year up to now really and we're not really used to losing so maybe, for me, it's maybe something we needed," he said.

"It would be great to end the series with a win and go on holidays with that under the belt as well, but we need to be a lot better to get there.

"It's something (losing) we haven't felt in a long time.

"At some stages we weren't as sharp as we wanted to be and as sharp as we were in the Six Nations. Australia took all their chances and converted them into points, whereas we didn't.

"We know we can fix the small things.

"We know when we fix them we can get to the level we were at in the Six Nations."

Joe Schmidt is expected to make changes to his team for this week's second Test, with Keith Earls the sole injury doubt as he recovers from a head injury.

Johnny Sexton is likely to lead the backline, with Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy tipped to come back into the front-row and Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose also in contention to come back into a team that could closely resemble the one that beat England to claim the Six Nations in March.

And Australia are expecting a backlash.

"We know it's a massive challenge, this is do or die," prop Sekope Kepu said.

"It's a series so they're going to be massively up for it this week and we've got to be on top of our game. We're under no illusions that the fighting Irish are going to come back hard. We've got to be ready for everything."

Irish Independent

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