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Monday 24 September 2018

Mowen aiming to send O'Driscoll packing with 'big loss'

FULLY FOCUSED: Ben Mowen.
FULLY FOCUSED: Ben Mowen.
REVERED: Brian O’Driscoll.

Australia will "definitely" be glad to see the back of Brian O'Driscoll, according to their captain Ben Mowen.

"Hopefully, we will send him off with a big loss and buy him a pint afterwards," he smiled.

For that to happen, the Wallabies will have to shed the residual effects of the 2011 World Cup loss to Ireland and the fact that they have to go back to 2005 for their last win here.

"They've certainly had the wood against us, particularly in the World Cup," said the impressively articulate Mowen.

"I wouldn't say they've got the psychological edge. But, they've got the recent history. We've been outplayed the last couple of times against them.

"Whether that works for you or against you I'm not sure. One thing for sure is our guys won't be underestimating them."

When James Horwill had the captaincy removed by coach Ewen McKenzie, the honour was bestowed on 28-year-old Mowen, a relative international novice. He could have been made a scapegoat. It has just made him better.

"I was definitely surprised. He is a great leader. It didn't change our relationship whatsoever. Leadership is not having a 'C' next to your name," he added.

"There are lots of parts to being a leader. We want to make sure we get that across the whole group and it's not just landing on one bloke's shoulders."

The Australians have shown distinct signs of progress in their last four matches, winning two away to Argentina and Italy and losing two close ones away to New Zealand and England.

It is not exactly where they want to be: "You're never happy with where you're at unless you're the All Blacks and you're winning every game. That's just the reality of it."

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has made no secret of the areas he will target tomorrow evening. He has brought in loose forward Scott Fardy to augment the work at the breakdown.

"We are aware of some of the tactics they use and what you know with the Irish is that they will be super-passionate, extremely physical early on. And they have that ability to play a skilful game on top of it.

"We've been very impressed with the strategies put in place with the choke tackle and the work they do at the breakdown, obviously under a new coach.

"But, it is the same old defence with Lesy Kiss there. They have continued on the strong form they've had in their defensive principles.

"Anytime you've got a new coach in – and we're pretty much the same – there is a breaking-in period. We're really impressed with what they did with Samoa last week. There was a good mix of power and execution of skills."

For Australia, it will be all about breaking even up front. They must have a steady scrum, maintain their excellent lineout and scrap for everything at the breakdown.

"We'll play our natural game. With the firepower we've got in the backline, we've got to make sure we use it."

It could just come down to how much ball Australia can win or how much Ireland can deny them.

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