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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Australia

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Australia

The GUINNESS Series comes to a fascinating conclusion on Saturday as Ireland look to avenge last year’s defeat to Australia and complete their first November clean sweep since 2006.

2014 GUINNESS SERIES MATCH: Saturday, November 22

IRELAND v AUSTRALIA, Aviva Stadium, 4.30pm (live RTÉ Two/Sky Sports 2 HD/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)

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Team News: Ahead of Saturday’s GUINNESS Series showdown with Australia, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has made three changes to the team named for the opening game against South Africa.

Rory Best will win his 78th cap for Ireland when he lines out against the Wallabies on Saturday afternoon as the GUINNESS Series comes to an exciting conclusion.

The returning hooker is joined in the front row by Mike Ross and Jack McGrath, while Gordon D’Arcy is installed at inside centre with Robbie Henshaw moving to outside centre.

Rhys Ruddock, a try scorer against the Springboks, is named to start at openside flanker in a back row that contains Jamie Heaslip and Peter O’Mahony.

Paul O’Connell captains the side for what will be his 96th appearance for Ireland. He is partnered in the engine room by Devin Toner.

The half-back combination of Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton is retained from the South Africa game as is the back-three of Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo.

Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne and Rodney Ah You provide front row cover on the bench, while Dave Foley is rewarded for his man-of-the-match performance against Georgia with a spot among the replacements.

Tommy O’Donnell is selected to cover the back row and Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and Felix Jones are the reserve backs.

Meanwhile, ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight will make his Test debut for Australia in Saturday’s showdown with Ireland.

He will become the third player to make his debut for the Wallabies on their spring tour, joining fellow recent new caps Sean McMahon and Tetera Faulkner. The 26-year-old is one of four changes made to the starting line-up.

The other switches see lock Sam Carter, back rower Luke Jones and centre Matt Toomua come into a team that boasts 488 Test caps.

Jones has earned his first start for the Wallabies in just his second match at Test level, following his debut against France in Melbourne in June, while Carter and Toomua will earn their 10th caps for the Wallabies in 2014.

The Wallabies commenced their spring tour and Michael Cheika’s coaching era with an entertaining 40-36 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham and toppled Wales 33-28 at the Millennium Stadium, before going down 29-26 to France in Paris last weekend.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Rodney Ah You (Buccaneers/Connacht), Dave Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster).

AUSTRALIA: Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs); Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies), Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies), Henry Speight (ACT Brumbies); Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs), Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs); James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), Luke Jones (Melbourne Rebels), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs) (capt), Ben McCalman (Western Force).

Replacements: James Hanson (Queensland Reds), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Tetera Faulkner (Western Force), Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs), Jake Schatz (Queensland Reds), Will Genia (Queensland Reds), Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs).

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television Match Official: Eric Gauzins (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 8/11; Draw: 20/1; Australia to win: 11/8

Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Ireland) – “People have this expectation (of us winning) for a reason. Let’s try to provide the reason. Expectation is there because we anticipate an outcome, we anticipate something happening because we base it on what we have seen before, our past experience. That’s how kids learn, that’s how the world turns.

“We want to live up to that expectation so people do have a basis for it and I guess expectation doesn’t have an end point and at some stage, because inevitably players are human, there will be a bad performer or a bad performance or a bad instinct or action in a game and that might cost us.

“We want to try and minimise all that negativity and unfortunately you are always going to get errors in games, because people are humans but if you minimise them and you maximise their belief that they can do things then hopefully the expectations can be met.

“I think we can buffer ourselves with an internal belief and an internal focus on what we feel we need to achieve to win the game, not be distracted by it. Even be motivated by it.

“The fear factor exists in all of us because naturally we don’t want to let people down. We know that this game has been sold-out for a long time. We know that the crowd want to be there to support the team and they want the team to be accurate enough, to be physical enough that they merit that support.

“The players are really aware of that and I guess there is that motivation factor, there is that level of anxiety that is positive and when it gets beyond that positive point it can start to manifest itself in some pretty negative anxiety and therefore have a detrimental effect. Hopefully that is not the case.”

Michael Cheika (Australia) – “We’re going out there to play. Ten-man rugby is not in our playbook, but we’re going to need physicality because half of Ireland’s tries have come from the driving maul.

“They have a strong scrum and they’re very physical in one-out carrying. Carry hard and ruck hard. They’re good at keeping the ball, as we are getting more in tune. There will be interesting phases of play.

“We like to go wide, but they have a lot of trucks inside. (Rob) Kearney is always lurking on the inside because (Jonathan) Sexton is the general and likes running that. Slightly contrasting styles, but an interesting battle.”

Pre-Match Links –

Head-To-Head: Ireland v Australia

O’Connell Aiming For Strong Finish To Series

Coaching Input Has Helped Zebo’s ‘All-Round Performance’

Ross: Australia Always Come Back Strong In Scrums

McGrath: We Learnt A Lot From Last Year

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Recent Meetings –

Saturday, June 26, 2010 – Summer Tour – Australia 22 Ireland 15, Suncorp Stadium

Saturday, September 17, 2011 – World Cup Pool C – Australia 6 Ireland 15, Eden Park

Saturday, November 16, 2013 – GUINNESS Series – Ireland 15 Australia 32, Aviva Stadium

Support Ireland on www.irishrugby.ie/facebook or search #IRLvAUS on www.twitter.com/irishrugby.