This match brings together two of the greatest hookers of the modern era with Ulster and Ireland’s Rory Best going head to head, cheek to cheek and shoulder to the back of the neck with Australia’s Stephen Moore.
By the end of the day they will have 216 test caps between them, Moore showing his dominance in the Australian game by racking up his 116th compared to “Our Ror’s” 100th, a remarkable achievement from Best considering the shocking injuries he’s had throughout his career. It’s a mouthwatering contest within a contest with Rory the outstanding ball winning hooker in the modern game against one of the most abrasive ball carriers. Both will have a major part to play on who win’s this game.
I have a bit of a soft spot for the Aussies, who played the most exciting rugby in my youth, and they always stood out to me as a team that could raise their game irrespective of their form. They had a bit of a shambles in The Rugby Championship, getting walloped twice by New Zealand and losing to Sough Africa but they still managed to finish second. That was after losing all three of a home test series against England but they have managed to regain some form beating Wales, Scotland and France in their current tour.
In my reckoning the Australians are playing their strongest team of the tour and they are, to me anyway, always a dangerous team. This will be just as tough a test for Ireland as their recent matches against New Zealand.
Joe Schmidt has rung some changes to what would be regarded as his first choice XV. Garry Ringrose, Paddy Jackson and Keith Earls come in for injuries to Rob Henshaw, Johnny Sexton and a few too many knocks to Simon Zebo respectively with Ringrose’s inclusion ahead of Luke Marshall perhaps the most contentious, however, personally I’m pleased to see the youngster get the start. It’s a nothing game as far as rankings positions are concerned as Ireland can’t leapfrog Australia and both are comfortable in the top eight with Australia at third and Ireland at fourth.
My only complaint is that O’Brien gets the nod in the back row ahead of Van der Flyer, who gives a better balance in my opinion; though I’d guess a few of our Munster chums are pondering the selection of Henderson ahead of Ryan as well as the continuing absence of O’Mahoney.
The match kicks off at 5:30 pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 and RTE 2.
The FRU Predicts: With Jerome Garces officiating I have a bit of a bad vibe about this one, and I expect Australia to complete a smash and grab raid at the Aviva in a high scoring game.
|Rob Kearney (71)||15||Israel Folau (50)|
|Andrew Trimble (68)||14||Dane Haylett-Petty (12)|
|Jared Payne (18)||13||Tevita Kuridrani (43)|
|Garry Ringrose (2)||12||Reece Hodge (8)|
|Keith Earls (53)||11||Henry Speight (9)|
|Paddy Jackson (18)||10||Bernard Foley (40)|
|Conor Murray (52)||9||Will Genia (74)|
|Jack McGrath (35)||1||Scott Sio (28)|
|Rory Best (99)||2||Stephen Moore (115)|
|Tadhg Furlong (10)||3||Sekope Kepu (75)|
|Iain Henderson (27)||4||Rory Arnold (8)|
|Devin Toner (41)||5||Rob Simmons (69)|
|CJ Stander (9)||6||Dean Mumm (55)|
|Sean O’Brien (44)||7||Michael Hooper (63)|
|Jamie Heaslip (90)||8||David Pocock (64)|
|Sean Cronin (55)||16||Tolu Latu (2)|
|Cian Healy (61)||17||James Slipper (84)|
|Finlay Bealham (5)||18||Allan Alaalatoa (8)|
|Ultan Dillane (7)||19||Kane Douglas (29)|
|Josh van der Flier (4)||20||Lopeti Timani (5)|
|Kieran Marmion (8)||21||Nick Phipps (51)|
|Joey Carbery (2)||22||Quade Cooper (65)|
|Simon Zebo (27)||23||Sefanaia Naivalu (4)|
|Caps in ().|