Wallabies ready for improved Ireland forwards in 2nd test
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Australia captain Michael Hooper says Ireland’s beefed-up forward pack means the Wallabies will have to play even better in the second test than they did in winning the first.
While star playmaker Johnny Sexton returns to the Irish side among eight changes, only three forwards remain in the Irish pack that lost the opening test 18-9 to Australia in Brisbane.
”You’ve got a bunch of guys who want to come in and make a point,” Hooper said Friday. ”No one likes missing out on a game … so if I was in their shoes, you want to come out and make a difference and I’m sure all their forwards are thinking that way.”
On Thursday, Australia named an unchanged 23 for the second test. It marked the first time that Cheika has named an unchanged 23 for back-to-back matches in his 46 games in charge of the Wallabies since taking the head coaching job in November 2014.
Sexton replaced flyhalf Joey Carbery, re-establishing his successful scrum-base partnership with halfback Conor Murray.
Coach Joe Schmidt created a new front row of Cian Healy, Niall Scannell and Tadhg Furlong while Dan Leavey comes in at openside flanker ahead of Jordi Murphy and Devin Toner joins James Ryan in the second row.
The 24-year-old Leavey, who also has a strong running game, was a standout this season for Leinster and Ireland. Hooper said he is looking forward to seeing him up close.
”Obviously Poey (Wallaby flanker David Pocock) was outstanding at the ruck last week but early on in the game I thought the Irish were quite good over the ball,” Hooper said. ”I’ve heard a lot about him (Leavey) and especially his Six Nations performance. A really quality young flanker.”
The teams play the third and final test next Saturday in Sydney.