5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
Former All Blacks hooker and captain Sean Fitzpatrick ran the rule over two of Ireland's Autumn international opponents on Total Rugby Radio. Click here for his thoughts.
- FITZY ON AUSTRALIA -
"I'm sure they'll come away from this Tri Nations bitterly disappointed. Under new coach John Connolly, they started well at home but on the road, they've been disastrous.
"And with the Autumn internationals coming up on foreign soil and then the World Cup in France, there must be some real concerns about their ability to play away from home.
"I suppose the one bright light (in the Australian back line) has been Matt Giteau. He's a player that can play in every position he plays in very well - he's world class.
"Still, there is real concern about the ability of the Australians to get the ball to him, and quality ball. The tight five has underachieved again.
"Another question for John Connolly is whether his old combination of Gregan and Larkham can still compete at this level. We saw during the Tri Nations they weren't at their best. And now for Connolly, has he got enough time to develop another pairing - maybe Giteau at ten?
"That's a question that will only be answered during the Autumn internationals and come World Cup next year."
- FITZY ON SOUTH AFRICA -
"They had a disastrous start to the Tri Nations tournament, losing their first four matches, three of those on the road. But they got back on track with players like Andre Pretorius giving them a glimmer of hope.
"If you look back at the last two games the All Blacks have lost, they have both been to South Africa - that must be a huge psychological boost for Jake White's team.
"South Africa showed throughout the tournament again that they have the best lineout. The likes of Victor Matfield absolutely dominated the lineout, on attack and defence.
"And from that, they were able to develop their driving play. What they need to do now is develop their back play for the likes of Bryan Habana to score tries that will win games for them.
"In my mind, the South Africans winning the last two games of the Tri Nations is bad news for the rest of the world. They're a huge confidence team, they do the basics outstandingly well and once they've done that, they can get their backs into the game and score tries.
"The memories of 1995 might come rushing back."