Ireland v Wallabies: where it will be won and lost

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies head to Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday with their greatest Spring Tour challenge ahead of them.

Australia is looking for its fourth consecutive win, a streak that would be their longest since last year’s run to a Rugby World Cup 2015 final, after beating Wales Scotland and France.

Michael Cheika has made his selections with an emphasis on the lineout, bringing Dean Mumm back into the starting lineup at the expense of ball-carrying No.8 Lopeti Timani.

Rob Simmons has retained his starting spot, with the veteran to call the lineouts in partnership with Rory Arnold.

Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Sekope Kepu, Reece Hodge and Michael Hooper will all return from a lighter week to start for the Wallabies, all among the swathe of changes to the starting team from the one that played France last weekend.

Ireland has been hit with some major injury blows in the lead up to the match, with flyhalf Jonny Sexton ruled out and Robbie Henshaw also an early withdrawal, while flanker Sean O’Brien and centre Jared Payne sat out Friday’s captain’s run.

The Irish have been in scintillating form this year, clinching a win over South Africa away and toppling the All Blacks in Chicago three weeks ago.


Ireland vs Australia will be shown LIVE on SBS and beIn Sport on Foxtel (Channel 515). You can also sign up for a two-week beIn Connect trial and stream the match there or on SBS on Demand.


Stephen Moore will draw level with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nathan Sharpe as the second-highest capped Wallabies player this weekend, playing his 116th Test.

Ireland captain Rory Best will play his 100th Test.

Wallabies centres Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani have both scored in each of their Spring Tour matches so far, putting them on track to match Mark Ella’s Grand Slam of tries in 1984.


David Pocock vs Sean O’Brien

David Pocock will be crucial for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesThe back row has been the hot topic of this Test week, with influential figures in both camps set to feature heavily this weekend. Sean O”brien’s form against the All Blacks showed his quality, with the Irish back row slowing down New Zealand and grounding an historic victory in their breakdown dominance. David Pocock almost single-handedly pulled the Wallabies over the line in Paris with his turnovers at crucial times against France, looking back to his best form. With Michael Hooper returning to the team as well, this shapes as an enthralling battle.

Devin Toner vs Rob Simmons

The second row battle will be a pivotal one for the Wallabies this weekend and Michael Cheika has shown his hand somewhat with the makeup of his 23. He has left Timani off the bench, bringing Dean Mumm back to the starting team to add some more elements to the set piece. Ireland’s locks are dangerous and their lineout stood up against the All Blacks in their recent matchups.


It’s all about the breakdown. The Australian and Irish back rowers have been immense for their respective teams in recent times and it will be a matchup of epic proportions in Dublin. O’Brien is the key for Ireland and the Wallabies will be looking to negate his impact at the ruck. Whoever can gain that dominance in tight will be in a position to win the Dublin clash.

TEAMS (1-23)

Ireland: Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner,  Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Paddy Jackson, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh Van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Simon Zebo.

Australia: Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Rob Simmons, Dean Mumm, Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Henry Speight, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau. Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Quade Cooper, Sefa Naivalu.