Australia v Ireland Test Series; a form challenger in 2018

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Australia v Ireland Test Series; a form challenger in 2018
Dublin , Ireland - 10 March 2018: Ireland players and supporters celebrate after Sean Cronin scored their side's fourth try during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

After the successful 2018 Six Nations champions, the Irish Rugby side are the form team ahead of the June International window. Without the All Blacks yet playing this year, it is more likely that the Australia v Ireland test series will see a form challenger meeting their host.

Of the three major June Internationals series, this one has the most ‘bite’.

The fiercest challenge by far. One which is going to be faced squarely by Australia. And by rights, the Ireland rugby team can then be then measured by away success against their current home record: 12 game winning streak.

Australia v Ireland Test Series; a form challenger in 2018

The schedule will follow the traditional three-match tour downunder is;

Australia v Ireland – Saturday, June 9
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, kick-off 8.05pm local time/11.05am Irish time

Australia v Ireland – Saturday, June 16
AAMI Park, Melbourne, kick-off 8.05pm local time/11.05am Irish time

Australia v Ireland – Saturday, June 23
Allianz Park, Sydney, kick-off 8.05pm local time/11.05am Irish time

Ireland Squad named for Summer tour

Joe Schmidt is preparing to land in Australia with his full compliment of tourists. Apart from Jared Payne [retired], the fitness of players involved in the Guinness Pro14 grand final might be his only concern.

Captained by Rory Best, the squad includes several new caps, as well as the experience of Keith Earls, Rob Kerney, Jonathon Sexton, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy and Devin Toner. All players with 50 plus caps. Players who have tasted victory; Grand Slam and Six Nations titles in 2018.

That experience will be mixed with high levels of confidence. Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale will bring that, as will Iain Henderson and James Ryan. Schmidt will be able to rely on proven winners, new blood and a dash of the unknown for the Australia v Ireland test series. Bundee Aki is a weapon who might find space within the Wallabies tall midfield.

See the full squad list here.

Wallabies will need to be ‘on song’

In years past, when Australian fans had a strong belief in their side, the song ‘Waltzing Matilda’ would be sung strongly. This year, it is the players who need to on song.

Recent meetings suggest that the Australia v Ireland test series could be in the visitors favour. And if their fans also head south in support of their team–their voices maybe heard the loudest.

Outspoken head coach Michael Cheika is beleaguered by a mix of form and a [sort of] fear of failure. That element; of not wanting to be defeated again on home soil, is a barometer of the lack of confidence which Rugby Australia currently foster. But as ever, the former player has a belief that his way, is ‘the right way’ ahead.

It will certainly be a litmus test for captain Michael Hooper. Seen as one of the strengths of Australian rugby, he deserves the full support of his side. They need to execute their micro-skills, if they are to defend, and defeat a more confident Irish team.

Cheika has selected some regular starters, as well as rewarding Super Rugby ‘form’. Taniela Tupou, new caps Caleb Timu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Tom Banks, are just a few names. And, he has gone the way of Eddie Jones, and named an NZ Super Rugby player – one that will still need to be authorized by the NZ Rugby CEO. Yet with a precedent being Brad Shields, Pete Samu might be a Wallaby in June.

See the full Wallabies squad list here.

The Wallabies are lower ranked than Ireland. And while that might only be on paper, it is certainly matched in recent results (International and Domestic). The forecast could be for a confrontation in the first test, that determines who will have the upper hand in the deciding second test.

Ireland Rugby: the Journey from Good to Great!

If anything has been clear in World Rugby, it has been the resurgence in Northern hemisphere rugby. A lack of presence at the 2015 RWC semi-finals showed that the results were poor. But gladly, England first, and more assuredly now Ireland and Scotland too, are rebuilding fan confidence.

The tipping point might well have been November 6, 2016. In a tangent change, the Irish win over the All Blacks was heard around the world. Their journey from good to Great had begun. And with the recent form of the last 18 months especially counted, Ireland can be called the form team.

And Australia know this. They might well find the Irish a shade better, due to players coming out of the Guinness Pro14 league. But then again, how will fatigue play it’s part? Will a change in climate undo all the familiarity of a European spring.

Irish fans will bet it does not. Sites such as OddsDigger and others will have the Irish at short odds, and the rankings certainly support another home series loss for Rugby Australia. And considering their current Super Rugby form, it might be a ‘green winter’ in the lucky country, by the end of the Australia v Ireland test series.

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