Australia name side to face Ireland
Kepu and Fardy return to starting line-up for Saturday’s match in Dublin
Scott Fardy will start in the back row for Australia against Ireland this weekend.
Australia have made three changes to the side that beat Italy 50-20 last week. All of the switches are in the pack, reinforcing Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie’s focus on set pieces and the breakdown area.
Alexander, one of Australia’s most experienced players, simply ran out of gas at the end of a long season and was rested by the Australian medical team although it is expected he will return for their match against Scotland next week.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, a major threat in the loose, will also take his place on the bench after missing the entire international season with a broken arm and hamstring injury.
Fardy is expected to bring high energy into his work at the collision. Just seven caps to date the flanker played in Japan for several years before teaming up with the Brumbies and finally earning a place on the Australian squad. He is partnered by captain Ben Mowen and openside Michael Hooper.
“We’ve had some injuries. For instance Scott was out for the England game so we wanted to bring him back in,” said Ewen McKenzie.
“With the composition of the forward pack and how we feel Ireland will go about their business and what we need to be able to do for ourselves and combat them…we’ll enjoy the confrontation at the breakdown and I think the breakdown will be important.
“We’ve gone with a forward pack that is quite capable of dominating in that area, especially with one of our best operators in Scott coming back from injury.”
McKenzie also hopes to use his impact bench at the end of the match, where Australia have been very successful in their last number of outings.
“I guess we’ve re-jigged the pack around that,” added the coach. “We’ve also given ourselves firepower at the end of the game and one of the things we’ve being doing well over the last four or five games is finishing well.
“Obviously we’ve Tatafu (Polata Nau) coming in and Tomane (Joe) so we’ve got a good presence there for the second half to make sure we’re strong in that part of the game. You’ve got to play the 80 minutes.”
Last week’s victory against Italy was only the Australian’s fourth win of the year for the, who lost to England to open their November tour before beating the Italians.
McKenzie, who like Ireland’s Joe Schmidt is relatively new to his post, also named an unchanged backline for the third match in a row.
“I’m sure all the boys are happy about being able to reclaim their spots in the backline,” said Australia’s play making outhalf Quade Cooper…”the combinations and stuff.
“It all comes off the back of hard work. The harder you work the better you get and the better you get the more consistent you are. It all steps back to attitude on and off the pitch and for me it’s all about repaying not just the coach but your team mates.
“It’s important that when you do turn up for the game you are putting in a good performance week in, week out.
Australia: Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu; Rob Simmons, James Horwill; Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen. Replacements: Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sitaleki Timani, Liam Gill, Nic White, Christian Leali’lifano, Joe Tomane.