Ewen McKenzie has predicted a “desperate and attritional” Ireland will meet the Wallabies at Aviva Stadium this weekend.
The Australians flew into Dublin – for so long a favourite touring destination for the Wallabies – on Sunday.
But any lingering euphoria from their seven-try rout of Italy at the weekend was well and truly put to bed as McKenzie made clear the task ahead.
“The reality is we’ve been OK at knocking over teams behind us but we have to do be better at knocking over teams ahead of us,” the Wallabies coach said.
“The teams we’re about to play aren’t ahead of us [in the rankings] but they could be if we don’t get it right. We have to be able to compete in that environment.”
McKenzie is hugely fond of Dublin, having spent two weeks here in the knock-out stages of the 1991 World Cup.
But his experiences in one of the most hospitable northern hemisphere rugby cities mean there are no Guinness factory tours on the official schedule this week.
“We’re well aware that they’ll host us really well and say nice things about us but when we get on the field it’s a different story,” McKenzie said.
“We don’t want to be lulled into a false sense of security; there’s never been an easy game played [here] at all, not in my memory.”
After a balmy week in northern Italy, the Wallabies will have to adjust of daily tops of 10 degrees and frequent showers.
The Test this weekend will more closely resemble Australia’s nightmare against England than their dream run in Turin.
Ireland marks the halfway point of the five-Test tour. Plenty of Wallabies have played plenty of rugby, and McKenzie signalled he would rest players during training to ensure they were fresh for the weekend.
He also flagged straight swaps in certain positions, where bench depth allowed it.
“I think [Ireland] will try and play us into a space, it will be desperate and attritional in that sense,” McKenzie predicted. “But by the same token I think their coach has a little bit of expectation around [the fact that] they’re going to express themselves with the ball.”
Ireland’s recent high water mark – apart from mauling Australia in the World Cup – was their 2009 Six Nations grand slam victory.
But after that glorious season of nine wins, one draw and not a single loss, victory has been harder and harder to come by.
New coach Joe Schmidt has come in with promises – much like McKenzie – to reinvigorate Ireland in attack.
A five-try performance against a depleted Samoa was, as Schmidt said, “a super exercise”.
The real test is old foes Australia, who are not at their peak, and then the big dogs of world rugby, the All Blacks.
“Everyone’s going to see us as an opportunity. They’ll look at the win loss [record], and say it’s a good time to play us,” McKenzie said.
“I don’t know beyond that. They’re in a situation where they won the Six Nations [in 2009] and then every year they’ve won fewer games … so they’ll be looking to climb the mountain themselves.
“They’ve got their own backyard to be looking at. From a confidence point of view, we know what they’re aiming at. Hopefully they’re concentrating on New Zealand.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.