Wallabies captain Stephen Moore says his team will need to pull out its best performance of 2016 to beat Ireland, with Australia on the home stretch of a marathon season.
Australia’s match against Ireland will be its 14th of the year and the result will determine whether the Wallabies travel to Twickenham next week with a historic Grand Slam still up for grabs.
“When you get to this stage of the tour, you’ve been training hard and you’re played a few test matches so that’s a big challenge for this team to be able to front up and play our best game of the tour,” Moore said.
“That’s something we’ve tried to address during the week, we’ve tried to keep our training as intense as we have all tour and we’re ready to play now tomorrow.”
Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago caught Moore’s eye, for its significance to the nation, with his own Irish ties, having spent his early childhood in the Emerald Isle.
While they couldn’t back up the historic win in Dublin last weekend, Moore said Ireland’s form demanded the Wallabies’ best.
“I think if you look at the way they’ve played over the last month, clearly a huge challenge,” he said.
“I think they’re playing as well as they have for a while and they’ve shown that in Chicago and even last weekend, I know they didn’t’ get the result but they played some great rugby and their consistency was there.
“We’re going to have to play our best game of the tour to win.” - Stephen Moore
Ireland has been hit by injury concerns in the lead-in to the match, with Jonny Sexton (hamstring) and Robbie Henshaw (concussion) and superstar flanker Sean O’Brien was also a bystander at Friday’s captain’s run.
Moore said those setbacks wouldn’t lessen the Irish threat.
“I think Sexton’s a key player for them but in saying that I think Jackson as well played a lot of rugby for them this year in South Africa he played so he’ll do a good job there,” he said.
“They both pose different threats but they’re both very good players and shown they’re capable of playing at this level.
“If you look across the team, they’re dangerous right across their forward pack as well so no one player we’ve focused on, we’re very much focused on them as a team because that’s what they are.”
It’s a special week for Moore, who lived in Ireland until he was five, and his father will be in the stands watching on in Dublin.
“It’s a busier week than usual, there’s lots of people to catch up with and I tried to do that a bit of that on Wednesday,” he said.
“It was nice, I’ve grown up not seeing much of my cousins for most of my life so it was nice to be able to see them whenever I come to Dublin.
“That was nice this week and with my mum and dad I suppose it is a little bit extra special the week and dad will be in the crowd tomorrow so that’s something that means a lot to me."
The Wallabies finalised their team to face Ireland on Friday, with Lopeti Timani missing out on a bench spot.
Wallabies to face Ireland
1. Scott Sio (28 Tests)
2. Stephen Moore (c) (115 Tests)
3. Sekope Kepu (75 Tests)
4. Rory Arnold (8 Tests)
5. Rob Simmons (69 Tests)
6. Dean Mumm (55 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (63 Tests)
8. David Pocock (64 Tests)
9. Will Genia (74 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (40 Tests)
11. Henry Speight (9 Tests)
12. Reece Hodge (8 Tests)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (43 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (12 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (50 Tests)
16. Tolu Latu (2 Tests)
17. James Slipper (84 Tests)
18. Allan Alaalatoa (8 Tests)
19. Kane Douglas (29 Tests)
20. Sean McMahon (13 Tests)
21. Nick Phipps (51 Tests)
22. Quade Cooper (65 Tests)
23. Sefanaia Naivalu (4 Tests)Australia takes on Ireland at 4:30am AEDT Sunday, LIVE on SBS and Foxtel's beIn Sport (Channel 515).