Strong Ireland squad a boost for June Series

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Ireland will be bringing a full-strength squad to Australia next month, and it’s a development being welcomed on and off the field by the Wallabies.

There had been suggestions Ireland coach Joe Schmidt would rest some of his Grand Slam-winning players, but he has included all his big stars for the tour.

The Wallabies will have just six days to prepare for the first Test on June 9, making the next two weeks of Super Rugby critical for momentum, before the opener.

Some players were part of a camp earlier this month, with Wallabies staff present as well, and skipper Michael Hooper said they would be ready to jump straight in when June rolls around.

“We’ve come together as a group and we’re excited about what that's going to look like, had a little bit of a head start and you've just got to deal with it,” he said.

“The way we make our time really effective in that six days leading into that's really important and very happy that Ireland have brought their first-string side.

“I would've been surprised if they didn't (bring their best team).

“It's going to make for a great series. So, bring it on.”

Hooper said the final two Super Rugby games before the series would certainly go up a notch for players jostling to make the squad.

“It's obviously a factor,” he said.

“We've got a lot of guys who are aspiring to reach that level and I think that's fantastic and outstanding for them individually and for Australian rugby as well to have these guys pushing and wanting to make a mark and get in that squad. It's a very competitive squad.

“(With) how many players Cheik's rolled out over the course of the last two years and debuted, there's plenty of opportunity and some spots that people need to put their hands up for.”

For punters who have bought tickets, the news is positive as well, after a sell-out was officially announced for the Sydney Test on June 23.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle said it would be a good incentive for fans who are already going and those still deciding whether to buy tickets.

“It's good to deliver to our fans who invested early in tickets,” he said.

“The best possible team that Ireland can put on the field, that's great - we'll obviously have our best Wallaby team.

“But as far as Cheika and his preparation with the Wallabies as they think forward to what a World Cup could look like and the possibilities of meeting Ireland, it's important for them to be able to play the best team and really understand what the benchmark is from the Six Nations champions.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will announce his June Series squad next Wednesday, on FOX SPORTS’ Kick and Chase program.

The Wallabies host ireland in a three-Test series next month, kicking off in Brisbane on June 9 at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.