After losing to England last weekend, the Australian team will be looking for revenge to reestablish the pecking order between Northern and Southern Hemisphere teams.
Robbie Deans will have been livid at their one-point defeat at the hands of Martin Johnson’s inconsistent side, and with the Tri-Nations only a couple of weeks away, he will have been beasting them in training and determined to send out a signal to New Zealand and South Africa.
You could see the pain on the players’ faces last week, and there was a sense that they could not wait to get out and play again, so you wonder if there will be an emphatic response this weekend.
They have lost Digby Ioane, Will Genia and Nathan Sharpe to injury, which won’t help their cause, but they have able replacements in Adam Ashley-Cooper, Luke Burgess and Mark Chisholm, and I suspect that they’ll be so fired up that it will seem like they have 20 men on the park.
This is clearly the last thing Ireland need. After a thrashing at the hands of the All Blacks and a narrow defeat to the New Zealand Maori, their tour has been fairly unpleasant already. They are without several key players, such as Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip, and you’d forgive them for having given some thought to the flight home after a long season.
It’s difficult to imagine the Irish mindset going into this game, but you suspect that they’ll go out and play, throw the ball about and see what happens. I can’t see them getting that long-awaited away win over Australia, so perhaps they’ll play with freedom and ambition.
Nevertheless, against a ruthless, determined Australia, there is a good chance that it won’t be pretty.