Schmidt stacks praise on Wallabies young guns

by Sam Phillips

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has stacked praise on the young guns named in the first Wallabies team of the year, having left three of his best players on the bench for the first June Test.

Schmidt surprised most pundits in leaving star trio Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy on the pine for the pivotal first Test on Saturday but that isn't a sign of disrespect for the Australians, according to the Kiwi born coach, who heaped praise on the Wallabies.

"Some of those guys have had some reasonably tough weeks and it was an opportunity, really," Schmidt said.

"One of the things with Joey (Carbery) is that we really wanted to get him out there at some stage and we thought the best window was to give him the longest preparation window as possible.

"We decided that it was an opportunity that would probably be more difficult to engineer later in the tour because the longest window of preparation - we trained last Thursday in Dublin and then really trained fully on Tuesday and Thursday off this week.

"It was trying to get a balance."Izack Rodda will pack down alongside Adam Coleman in the second row on Saturday. Photo: WalmsleyAny hint of the Irish underestimating the Wallabies is misplaced, as Schmidt quickly reeled off the risks the Australian debutants and young lock Izack Rodda will pose when asked on Thursday.

"It's no surprise to see someone like Caleb Timu there," he said.

"Watching him come on for his cameo against the Waratahs on the weekend - it was absolutely blockbusting - as it has been for most of the Super Rugby season.

"Paenga-Amosa, again, probably with the injury to Jordan Uelese it was something that forced upon Cheik but at the same time, it's a really good opportunity.

"I think young Rodda has really impressed - I remember talking to Brad Thorn when I came over in January to have a look at where we might stay and how we might manage this look at the tour and he mentioned him to me then before the Super Rugby season had started.

"I have kept an eye on him since then and he has really impressed as a young man who is, potentially, going to be in the Wallabies for a long time."Reece Hodge will come off the bench in the first Test. Photo: WalmsleySchmidt said the depth coach Michael Cheika has at his disposal is to be desired, best exemplified by the omission of Tevita Kuridrani and the placement of Reece Hodge on the bench.

"In the backs Reece Hodge has been really solid for them and having him on the bench gives him huge versatility to go with the 6-2 split," he said.

"Kuridrani - not quite making it with Kerevi being selected - that's the strength and depth (the Wallabies have).

"Not too many teams in world rugby would be able to leave the likes of Kuridrani and not select Reece Hodge and still have an incredibly strong looking backline."

He also highlighted the threat Israel Folau poses in the air as an element of the Wallabies' attack which is near impossible to stop, despite the Irish proficiency in that space.

"We have seen enough of Israel Folau, a number of our lads have played against him a few times and it's funny - it's one of the things that people perceive we are good at but I don't think there is anyone in world rugby that is as good Israel Folau in the air," he said.

"How do you combat it? I think you've just got to go up and do the best you can."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three Test June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.