Rugby Union: Ireland See Ill-Prepared Australia Ripe for Upset; IRELAND V AUSTRALIA
Byline: Piaras Murphy
There has been a distinct air of optimism here this week and a feeling that Ireland's longawaited victory over a southern hemisphere side could come today against Australia.
Ireland have not beaten the World Cup holders Australia in a Test since 1979 and the most recent home victory was as long ago as 1968. But some believe that Australia could be ripe for the picking this weekend.
Ireland already have three Tests under their belts this season and as Australian coach Eddie Jones said: 'They're probably the bestprepared side in Europe at the moment.'
Australia had not played a competitive game since the last match of the Tri-Nations in August before last week's 17-6 victory over Argentina.
Coupled with that bruising encounter in Buenos Aires, the squad had to endure a long-haul flight to Dublin and by today will have had only two training sessions in Ireland to prepare.
They have also been forced into making six changes from the side that beat Argentina.
Their inspirational captain George Gregan will return home after the match on paternity leave before flying back for next weekend's match againstEngland, team officials said yesterday.
There is also a feeling here that Australia are a little fragile in the tight five, particularly in the front row.
But Jones has pointed to the fact that the team is rested and not as jaded as they were last year, when they succumbed to England.
Ireland appear to be relishing the prospect of taking on one of the giants of the southern hemisphere.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: 'We've been rattling the cages of the southern hemisphere sides for some time now. If you rattle them for long enough, eventually a cage will open.'
O'Sullivan could have played it safe this week by selecting Anthony Foley as captain but instead went for inspirational centre Brian O'Driscoll.
Foley has captained the side when usual skipper Keith Wood has been unavailable while O'Driscoll's only experience of the role came when he was playing for the Under-20s at University College, Dublin. …