One strong defensive performance ‘means nothing’ for the Wallabies backline as they prepare for a second Test against an Ireland side hungry for revenge in Melbourne, flyhalf Bernard Foley says.
The Wallabies’ backs put on one of their best defensive outings in recent seasons against Ireland in Brisbane, but Foley said one good effort wasn’t enough.
“You can't just go off one Test match and say we've saved it,” he said.
“I think it's going to be a work in progress, it's something we're going to have to keep doing every week, is defending well and stopping sides because it doesn't matter in Test matches how many tries you score, it's how many you leak, so for us it was a step in the right direction and it was a first thing, but it sort of means nothing going into this weekend.”
The Wallabies are likely to face a different starting lineup when they take on Ireland in Melbourne, with first-choice flyhalf Johnny Sexton tipped to return at 10 ahead of Joey Carbery, and Foley said their opponents would be out for blood.
“I think they're going to come back with a vengeance, not just because they're going to make changes but they're number two in the world for a reason,” he said.
“They've been performing extremely well over the last 15 months or so, so I think if we can prepare ourselves for a really tough test match, and having a few of their regular starters back in will make them a stronger side.”
Foley admitted Sexton had caused some problems for the Wallabies with his attack on the line, something they’ll need to be prepared for from the get go.
“I think Johnny took on the line a bit more when he came on and was a bit more of a running threat and was a little bit of a problem for us there late in the game so it's definitely going to be for us to be switched on and be aware of all their threats.”
The Wallabies playmaker said he felt there was plenty more improvement in the national backline as well, with teething problems showing in Brisbane.
“Probably lacked a little bit of cohesion, I don't think we gelled all that well, but that was probably a little bit expected after a short preparation,” he said.
“We're trying new things, we've only just put in place some new philosophies and new ideals, so it wasn't ever be the perfect outcome or wasn't going to gel straight away.
“It was so-so, I was excited to get the result and really off the back of defence and workrate for each other, but we know we're going to have to be a lot better for this weekend because last week doesn't count for much anymore.”
The Wallabies take on Ireland in the second June Test on Saturday June 12, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.