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Wallabies ready for warm Irish welcome

  
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12/11/2013


The Qantas Wallabies have flown into Dublin ahead of their Lansdowne Cup clash this weekend (Sunday morning 4.45am AEDT) with head coach Ewen McKenzie predicting the Men of Gold will face a "desperate and attritional" Ireland.

The Wallabies bounced back from a first up loss on their Spring Tour to England with a resounding seven-try rout of Italy in Turin on Sunday morning (AEDT). McKenzie however was quick to get his team focused on the task ahead.

"The reality is we've been okay at knocking over teams behind us (on the IRB world rankings) but we have to do be better at knocking over teams ahead of us," he told the media in Dublin.

"The teams we're about to play aren't ahead of us [in the rankings] but they could be if we don't get it right. We have to be able to compete in that environment."

McKenzie has fond memories of Dublin as he spent a fortnight in the Irish capital during the knockout stages of the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

That stay included the Wallabies thrilling 19-18 quarter final win over Ireland at Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium), thanks to a late try from Michael Lynagh, set up by David Campese.

McKenzie started at tighthead prop that match and continued to play a key role as John Eales' Wallabies went on to defeat England 12-6 in the Final at Twickenham a fortnight later to clinch Australia's first Rugby World Cup crown.

The experienced coach also knows that the warm welcome the Wallabies will receive this week will not be replicated when they take the field on Sunday (AEDT).

"We're well aware that Ireland will host us really well and say nice things about us but when we get on the field it's a different story," he explained.

"We don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security; there's never been an easy game played here at all, not in my memory."

The weather has been a cool 10 degrees in Dublin with regular showers so McKenzie knows conditions will be more akin to Twickenham than Turin, where the warm weather suited the Wallabies up tempo style.

The Test is also the third on tour so McKenzie will give the players a lighter training load this week so they are fresh this weekend. There may also be some changes to the match day squad.

"I think Ireland will try and play us into a space, it will be desperate and attritional in that sense," he said.

"But by the same token I think their coach has a little bit of expectation around the fact that they're going to express themselves with the ball."

Irealnd are are adjusting to life under new head coach Joe Schmidt, who has come in under a mandate similar to McKenzie – to play entertaining, attacking Rugby.

Schmidt’s reign began with an impressive 40-9 (five tries to nil) shellacking of the usually formidable Samoa on the weekend, further underlining to McKenzie how tough this weekend’s clash will be.

Ireland last won the Six Nations in 2009 and the Wallabies Test is an important step for them in hopefully re-capturing that title early next year, as is the clash with New Zealand the following weekend.

McKenzie knows Schmidt will want to chalk up his second win in as many Tests.

"Everyone's going to see us as an opportunity. They'll look at our win-loss [record], and say it's a good time to play us," explained McKenzie.

"I don't know beyond that. They're in a situation where they won the Six Nations [in 2009] and then every year they've won fewer games ... so they'll be looking to climb the mountain themselves.”

"They've got their own backyard to be looking at. From a confidence point of view, we know what they're aiming at. Hopefully they're concentrating on New Zealand."

The Qantas Wallabies play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this Sunday morning November 17th (4.45am AEDT). All Qantas Wallabies 2013 Spring Tour matches are broadcast live on Fox Sports and Channel Ten.

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