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Toner: we've set standard against boks

Devin Toner was willing to take the bait and bite on the significance of winning all three November internationals.

"It's hugely important," he said.

"Obviously, we said before we were just going to take it one game at a time, but the most important thing after that performance against South Africa is that there's no point coming out and playing well against South Africa but then falling by the wayside against Australia.

"That's what our focus is - to reach that standard again".

Professional rugby has become swamped by the mathematical use of systems, the building of structures and the dedication to discipline that are hallmarks of Ireland's Joe Schmidt and Australia's Michael Cheika.

And still...

Strip it all away or make the heavy presumption that all top-tier international countries are properly prepared and you are left with what underpins everything else - borderline criminal level aggression.

You can have all the clever plans in place. If you don't bring the fire to burn the enemy, you are looking at defeat.

Tall timber Toner was there last November when too much thinking and not enough hitting was the basis for Australia's warped superiority of four tries-to-nil.

"I think a lot of lads were still getting used to Joe's system and how it works.

"They didn't want to mess up and not get the detail right.

"So I think a lot of lads were focused on that and let the other stuff fall by the wayside.

"We just didn't front up," he said.

"It was the first game that we didn't and we got caught off guard. We didn't bring the emotional side to it, which we needed to. We need to bring that this week."

The Wallabies present different problems to solve than The Springboks.

They like to use their brains more than their brawn. They have athletes, not as many beastly animals.

"I suppose they've got an unpredictability about them," noted Toner.

"They've obviously got a hugely talented backline that they can pull out of anywhere to be honest.

"We're really going to have to get that same mindset that we had against South Africa to get off the line, get in their faces and shut down all the threats that they have in the backline."

Behind all of their taken-for-granted field-wise smarts, they now have a coach in Cheika, who will brook no nonsense, counter insolence or immaturity with daddy-of-the-house authority.

It is something Toner knows all about.

"I'm not going to say he was scary," he said with a smile.

"I wouldn't talk back to him because you know yourself you're doing something wrong. He's was doing it for a reason, not just for the sake of it.

"You are going to learn from it. It is just the way he commands respect.

"One of the massive things is that he drills the discipline in the squad and being disciplined in everything you do, being on time, your dress code."

Toner has played in all of Schmidt's twelve internationals, starting all but two against Argentina in June and Georgia last week.

"The confidence you get from a coach picking you feeds into you playing well.

"It has helped me last year and this year - being able to have the coach rely on you."

It is a sign of how far he has come since making his Leinster debut under Cheika against Border Reivers in the Celtic League way back in January 2006.


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