Irish winger Richards good enough for Roos
IRELAND v AUSTRALIA, Thomond Park (KO.8.0)
Ireland winger Pat Richards is a player of such class that he could have easily represented Australia, according to Kangaroos assistant coach David Furner.
Richards will line up against the country of his birth in Limerick tonight for what is almost certainly going to be Ireland's last game in this year's World Cup.
Mark Aston's men have lost to Fiji and England so far and are rated as virtually no competition to Australia, meaning that short of a miraculous result, their tournament is over.
That is in spite of the efforts of Richards, who last month brought down the curtain on seven glorious years with Wigan, having left the NRL in 2006 in search of a different challenge.
Doing so ruled him out of selection for the national team and he subsequently explored his Irish heritage, but Furner is convinced that Richards could have made it in the Green and Gold.
"I have no doubt; he can play wing and centre and picked up a Man of Steel. That's a tremendous effort," Tim Sheens' right-hand man said at Australia's captain's run at Thomond Park.
"He obviously made an impact there and the Super League competition is a very good one because we see players who come and then go back to the NRL so that just shows you the standard."
Australia are unbackable favourites to make it three Group A wins out of three and only a staggering sequence of results will prevent them from topping the pool and making a last-eight meeting with the United States.
The squad flew to Ireland last Sunday and spent Monday and Tuesday in Dublin as tourists before heading south to Limerick.
Ireland have shipped 74 points in their two games so far and some have suggested that could be doubled tonight.