Ireland will play their final Guinness Series match tomorrow as they welcome Australia to the Aviva Stadium (KO 4:30pm).
Ireland, as expected, have made a number of changes to the side that won 49-7 last week against a spirited Georgia. Gordon D’Arcy, Simon Zebo and Mike Ross are the only surviving three in the starting XV from last week’s comfortable win. Robbie Henshaw comes in at 13 for what is Ireland’s third centre partnership in as many weeks. As expected frontline players such as Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip and Paul O’Connell have all been drafted in. Rory Best has also been selected at hooker as the Ulsterman has finally been able to shrug off a number of ongoing injury issues.
Recovered in time. Rory Best will start for Ireland at hooker
Australian coach Michael Cheika has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes from the side that lost last week against an ever improving les bleus in Paris. The Wallabies started poorly in the French capital and although mounted an impressive fight back it was too little too late.
Rugby League convert Israel Folau continues at full back and Brumbies pair Tevita Kuridriani and Matt Toomua combine at centre. Toomua, like many Austalian twelves is an out half by trade. This gives the Wallabies plenty of options and makes them particularly dangerous on second phase ball. Cheika has gone with the Super Rugby winning half back pairing of Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley while blindside flanker Sean McMahon drops out of the squad and is replaced by Luke Jones. Captain Michael Hooper and the Western Force’s Ben McCalman make up the backrow playing at seven and eight respectively. Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale will give Cheika plenty of options off the bench and they all have the ability to completely change the direction of a game.
Potential danger! Genia, Cooper & Beale
Gordon D’Arcy – one of Ireland’s most experienced players
Ireland: Every player from 1-23 has an integral role to play if Ireland are to come out on top but Ireland need Gordon D’Arcy to count on all his experience in particular. The Leinster man will have to lend a hand to Robbie Henshaw at times as he continues his development at the top level. The home side cannot expect to win with just a good defensive effort, as they must use a similar template to the one against the All Blacks last November if they are to finish with a win. Expect a big performance from the inside centre!
First timer! Henry Speight will make his test debut
Australia: The Wallabies possess a number of dangerous and attacking players. Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tevita Kurindriani all have an ability to have teams huddled over their own goal line scratching their heads and wondering how they got there. Captain Michael Hooper too is fast becoming one of the best flankers in the business but it is Henry Speight that could break Irish hearts, with the Brumbies winger earning his first test cap tomorrow. With this in mind, one may be forgiven for thinking this could be an area for Ireland to exploit, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Explosive, quick and an ability to read the game, Speight has probably been the best player in Super Rugby not to be capped internationally in the last number of years. Residency rules has meant the Fijian born flyer has had to bide his time. Expect this to be the start of a long international career.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Rhys Ruddock, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridriani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Benn Robinson, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Will Genia, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Date: Saturday, November 22
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television match official: Eric Gauzins (France)
Timekeeper: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)