So it is Thursday before the second test. All wounds have been licked all frustrations have been dealt with and we move to Melbourne with a changing team selection and all hope restored?
The teams have been named and Ireland comes in with more changes. Sexton is back in, Andrew Conway in for Stockdale, Ringrose in the midfield, Scannell in the front row beside Healy and Furlong. The idea that has been touted is that the squad is so good that the players can slip into the team without any issue. If that was the case then Joey Carberry would be starting again in his quest for minutes. The issue with the furore around the player and his movements is that with the minutes being key, surely he should be playing? It will be interesting to see if he gets brought on if Ireland is down on the scoreboard. He still has to have a start with a pack going forward, but that will happen in time.
Conway is a dynamo, in the interpro he was the threat that Munster had against Leinster in the Aviva. He is capable of magic as seen against Toulon and is another arial threat for Ireland. The plan appears to be to attempt to kick behind Falou (with far less kicks overall) and to crown him with the 2 wingers and fullback to make him run it back. Falou appears to be allergic to kicking the ball so it is a certainty that he will try and run through the oncoming opposition. This might be where Ireland and the fitness can challenge the home side.
Australia is unchanged in their selection. Beale looks to be the key for them again. Listen out for how often the commentators say his name and you will know how the game is going for Ireland. The more you hear his name, the more trouble Ireland is in.
Ireland will start angry, aggressive and hungry. There is massive pressure on this team now. To be contenders in the RWC, Ireland need to get the series win. Need to put the mental bullet into a southern hemisphere team. Make as many teams wary of playing you as possible coming into the RWC.
So will Ireland do it?
Well, the big stat that cause the issue was the 21 turnovers conceded last week. Somewhere unavoidable due to the massive work of Pocock, but a lot of them where Ireland not being at the races. Ireland also kicked the ball to Falou as opposed to getting it behind him and challenging him as he catches. Ireland will do less kicking and more sniping, they will keep the ball and go back to the strangulation rugby we know Ireland love. The players should be settled now, recovered and well rested while being angry at the way they played in test 1.
Ireland to win, but as usual, I can’t predict the score.