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Friday 19 October 2018

Ireland expect fired up Wallabies

Plumtree: Aussies would view defeat as a 'disaster'

STEADY: Jonny Sexton goes through the motions ahead of this evening's clash
STEADY: Jonny Sexton goes through the motions ahead of this evening's clash
EXPECTING PRESSURE: Irish forward coach John Plumtree.

Ireland forwards coach John Plumtree is convinced Australia would view a second defeat on their northern hemisphere tour as "turning their trip into a disaster".

"Winning is a big thing in Australia. They have been under the pump. But, we've seen some changes in them. They will gather confidence from that," said Plumtree.

With these strong words comes strong motivation for the Wallabies to put right the wrong of losing out to Ireland in the 2011 World Cup.

More than that, the tourists want to continue what Plumtree calls their "upward curve of form" through their patterns of play and their defence.

"It takes time for a coach to get his messages across and change what they are trying to achieve. They are starting to look like they're getting that."

The very same thing could be said for Ireland. Joe Schmidt will be given a sharp lesson in the demands of the game at the highest level this evening.

How far have they come in three weeks? "It's hard to gauge really," responded Plumtree. "Joe is planting his philosophies. He has been here for three years with Leinster. This is a different group. It is a clean white sheet of paper he came in with.

"It is going to take time for everyone to understand totally what it's all about. It is progressing nicely. We're seeing more clarity at training now. Everything will improve in time.

"It is a team game and, from a pack perspective, it is important that our pack works closely together. If they stick together and believe in each other, they will be okay.

"If you have one person who runs out on that field who doesn't believe in himself and what we're trying to achieve then we've got a passenger."

Schmidt has certainly selected like he has time to develop, handing possible career-changing starts to centre Luke Marshall, lock Devin Toner and even scrum-half Eoin Reddan.

There has been a co-operative scheme put in place between Paul O'Connell and Toner in terms of the line-out. The former will handle some; the latter others.

Leinster's Toner admitted it "is probably the biggest game that I have played in," as he starts against full-blown world class opponents for the first time in his ninth international cap.

There was 30 minutes against New Zealand in November three years ago when he was earmarked as one for the future. It hasn't quite happened for him to this point.

The Meath man has had to work hard on the natural disadvantages his uncommon 6'11" height brings to the game against more explosive, shorter forwards.

Hooker Rory Best will play a large part in Toner's performance. The Ulsterman wobbled badly for the Lions at the line-out in Australia. He seems to be in a better place mentally at the moment.

"He threw nicely last week against Samoa. There wasn't a lot of pressure on him from the Samoan defensive line-out. But, you've still got to nail those throws," said Plumtree.

"A poor throw, a poor lift, a poor jump or a poor call, you don't get your ball. That is where I have been hard on the players in making sure that the guys perform their core roles.

"These guys know how to set up a line-out and they've got some good movement in the line-out. But if you don't nail down those core things, nothing functions.

"We will come under real pressure. Australia have a tall line-out, both locks, and (Scott) Fardy in there, gives us a lot more pressure."

Ireland took time to find their stride against Samoa, not stepping on the gas until well into the second-half when the result was safely tucked away.

They won't have the luxury of feeling their way in this time.

"The start of a Test match is important. You want to build pressure," stated Plumtree.

"We have to make sure we have that big start, play in the right areas of the field, send a bit of doubt their way. I am sure they will want to do the same thing to us."

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