RWC 2011 Australia v. Ireland - Preview - Green and Gold Rugby

RWC 2011 Australia v. Ireland – Preview

RWC 2011 Australia v. Ireland – Preview

Let me start with an apology. The guys at GaGR have been so excited about RWC that we forgot to write about RWC. We have had endless hours of top class rugby to watch and that’s what we’ve been doing instead of writing a preview for Australia and Ireland’s most important pool game. On to the game.

What do we know about Ireland? If you listen to the media they are old, out of form, never beaten us at RWC and ranked way below us on the “official” IRB rankings. all these things should point to a Wallaby win. And all of this means sweet F.A. We’ve all seen players throw out their walking frames for one last chance at glory. Form, any form, is temporary and history and IRB rankings mean diddly squat at a world cup. All of which leaves me in a bit of a pickle when I have to hastily chuck together a last minute preview!

Ireland have great players in key positions. Brian O’Driscoll at 13. Sean O’Brien at open side flanker. Paul O’Connell in the second row. Add Kearney, Sexton, D’Arcy, Bowe and Heaslip to them and they’re starting to look pretty good. Put them in conditions that suit northern rugby, like the prediction for today, and alarm bells start to ring.

Then there’s the disruptions to our team. Digby Ioane breaks his thumb. David Pocock, possibly the best open side running around today, won’t be running around today! He’s hurt his back the morning of the captains run and is a last minute withdrawal. Ben McCalman has replaced him in the run on side. While McCalman is a fine player he is not an open side flanker. And the only good thing to come from Pococks injury is Wycliff Palu’s inclusion on the bench. It will be good to see the big number 8 run around again. And at least one of the Irish backs won’t be pleased to see his name there. But unfortunately our backrow now looks as unbalanced as the Irish one does. Things just aren’t looking as rosy as they were looking a few days ago.

So we think Australia should win. The rankings say Australia should win. Form says Australia should win. History says Australia should win. But something is just niggling away at me. This game could be a slippery slope for us. And I will be on the edge of my seat tonight hoping and praying we come through with the win!

One thing I have notice about the Irish side is their penchant for acronyms instead of names. ROG, BOD, POC, SOB even we do it with JOC. I wonder if they use it among themselves or journalist get sick of writing their names? It does leave a few punters unfamiliar with the teams trying to guess what people are talking about on Internet forums.

These teams look evenly matched. Both have good forward packs, great back rows and incredible backs. I have to back Australia but I think it will be a lot closer than many punters think.


1. Sekope Kepu, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Dan Vickerman, 5. James Horwill (capt), 6. Rocky Elsom, 7. Ben McCalman, 8. Radike Samo, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 14. James O’Connor, 15. Kurtley Beale.
Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. James Slipper, 18. Rob Simmons, 19. Wycliff Palu, 20. Scott Higginbotham, 21. Luke Burgess, 22. Drew Mitchell.


1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best, 3. Mike Ross, 4. Donncha O’Callaghan, 5. Paul O’Connell, 6. Stephen Ferris, 7. Sean O’Brien, 8. Jamie Heaslip, 9. Eion Reddan, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 11. Keith Earls, 12. Gordon D’Arcy, 13. Brian O’Driscoll (capt), 14. Tommy Bowe, 15. Rob Kearney.
Reserves: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Tom Court, 18. Donnacha Ryan, 19. Denis Leamy, 20. Conor Murray, 21. Ronan O’Gara, 22. Andrew Trimble.

Match Officials:

Referee: Bryce Lawrence

Assistant Referees: David Pearson, Stuart Terheege

Video Referee: Graham Hughes


Eden Park, Auckland

 Late news: For Australia word is coming through that Moore is ill. Tatafu Polota-Nau replacing him and Saia Faingaa comes onto the bench.,

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  • Lee Enfield

    Pocock out, McCalman is the run on 7, with Palu to the bench. The inclusion of Palu should be a bonus for the wallabies, but the loss of Pocock will be hard felt, especially since McCalman is not a 7. The Wallabies will still win, but they will do it just a little bit tougher, the rest of the forward pack are going to have to stand up as a unit to cover the loss of Pocock.

    • zuzu

      bring back beau robinson!!!!!!! direct balanced swap for pocock

      • Lee Enfield

        Absolutely, Beau should have always been in the 30 man squad as cover for Pocock, obviously Deans has seen something from McCalman which suggests he is up to the task, hopefully Deans is right, and we are wrong for wanting Beau.

  • Alan

    yes i also believe it will be dam close. Utterly devastated bambam is out, just look at some irish papers online and they were all unanimous in stating their fear of him. However with him gone they are definitely fancying their chances

    McCalman…. i just dont think he is at this level yet, but perhaps he will rise to the occasion, i bloody hope so and will be wishing him well

  • Wallaby Fan 2011

    I’ve said enough about McCalman before so I won’t keep repeating it. But I did have to just get myself off the floor when I heard he was our run on 7 for a big test. Embarrasing.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

    Good to see so much positive support for our replacement 7.

    It’s now up to him to have the game of his life and for the pack to be aggressive, urgent, accurate & disciplined. Yikes!!!!!! We’re in trouble.

    Nah only kidding we will be fine. Robbie has already factored this one in with his selections.

    • Wallaby Fan 2011

      Look Bill I agree I am being negative, but if I was having heart surgery I want a Heart Surgeon to do it not ENT bloke. Sure the ENT may know his stuff around the heart area but he isn’t a trained specialist if you know what I mean. ;-)

      • Wallaby Fan 2011

        an ENT sorry is a Ear, Nose,Throat Specialist if you didn’t know. Otherwise this makes no sense!

        • bill

          Drat, I was hoping you’d meant the ents from the lord of the rings.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

          Glad you explained ENT, if you know what I mean. ;)

  • Dave

    I have to admit, I’m more nervous about this one than I’ve been in a while. Everybody is saying the WBs should win while the Irish have been claiming the underdog status for about a year now. They are starting to sound a bit more bellicose as the game draws closer, but they’ve made a definite attempt to put all the pressure on WBs.
    With Pocock injured we’ll obviously get fewer turnovers, which means we have to hang on to it. We need to stop Ireland’s big men and win the set piece. I have a feeling it will be won up front as Ireland will be concentrating on nullifying our backs. This makes the inclusion of Palu and TPN all the more important. I definitely don’t think McCalman will embarrass us at No 7 as he’ll play a stronger running game role similar to that of Juan Smith. He’s more than capable of doing this effectively.
    Wallabies by 15 but my fingers will be crossed for the whole game.

  • PastGlory

    I’d be much more comfortable with the Pocock injury if Beau Robinson was the replacement, Palu on the bench, and McCalman watching from the stands.

  • singlefin

    @Past Glory
    I agree with you . Im Nervous after watching the Irish dish up the Poms in January.
    Wallaby Forwards to stand Tall tonite looking forward to Palu & TPN RIPPING IN & charging up the middle IN THE FINAL 20 MINS

  • jay-c

    im really looking forward to how the wallabies approach this game with a “traditional saffa” type backrow>
    i feel like a broken record but with the way the game is being reffed i think its the way to go>>
    should nullify any hope of the irish wanting to out forward us

  • AC

    I would really like to see some G&GR video analysis on McCalman. Aside from a great break against the ABs from the scrum base, I haven’t really seen him do much at all. Maybe he is a backrow ninja and it’s what you don’t see that has Robbie loving him. Can someone please explain…?

  • AndrewM

    arrrrrgh well done Channel Nine and its sport programming!!

    Can some one with a legal background explain how they can advertise a game as being live when it is being shown on free to air TV two hours after the game actually starts??

    And to add insult to injury, the game is being bumped by league………………!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • campo81

    I did my own analysis after the Samoa and First S.A. game and my conclusion was ‘does everything he can to avoid contact’. At one point a big SA forward ran at him in broken play and he had nowhere to hide ,took 2 steps back and nearly soiled himself.Rest of the time hangs 2 off the ruck and assists in the occassional tackle,leans on the occassional ruck.Shame Beau Robinson was not given more of a chance,stepped up just fine against the best this year.Don’t really buy into this number 7 not as important theory.See Brussow against the All Blacks a few weeks back and Pococks turnovers last week were key.

  • Skippy

    Guys, C’mon lads give McCalman a break. He’s a Aussie competing on the world stage and deserves our support.
    Yes, he isn’t world class… but he’s still a kid. He’s got a 10 year career ahead of him and will improve as he matures and develops physically etc. Let’s be honest… he’s only ever been picked when others are not available so often he’s been picked ahead of his time. He’s only played for Aus because Palu etc have been injured so much. If they hadn’t he could have developed and improved and experienced test match rugby off the bench for several years and improved his power/dynamism… but the lad has had to learn and do it the hard way i.e. on the field. But he’s got out there, stuck in and given his all. His all might not always have been good enough but he had a crack and I’m pretty sure he’s played more tests than all of us, so let’s get behind the kid.
    He didn’t ask to be picked as back up 7 but obviously Deans has a plan in mind and an eye on how he sees the game developing and he’s decided McCalman can do the job for him. So good luck. History may show McCalman wasn’t up to the task but atleast I know he will give it 100%. And Deans may be proven wrong also. But until that time occurs, I will be cheering on Ben McCalman and hoping the kid gives it a real red hot go.In 5 years time he could be anything… we don’t know.

    However… this is the nightmare situation we all worried about. Imagine if this was the final?????
    I appreciate the love for Beau Robinson and those who support Hodgson but the man who should be in the squad for all his knowledge and experience and stepping into the role today is George Smith. Letting him go without ensuring he was available for the WC is the biggest mistake Deans may ever make.

  • Alex Richards

    S Moore ruled out now…. FARKKKK.

  • el cid

    Ire have been preparing for months to negate Pocock….he was our biggest fear….especially with O’Brien not being a specialist 7….now that he’s out….O’Brien (Euro Player of the Year) will be able to stand off rucks and create carnage….Ire by 5 !!!! Time to fuck up some cute looking but puny Mammals !!!!!

  • Rumour on Twitter saying Stephen Moore is out! TPN starts Faingaa onto the bench

  • Sauce from Tropics

    Well thought through … And farking close it was .. But for one thing .. Ireland won and completely outplayed the Wanting Wallabies !!!

  • Wallabies fan 2011

    HERE COMES NEGATIVITY!!!! F me what do u expect when u play a bloke out of position is one of the biggest games in 4 years. This is not a fn trial this is a bloody world cup game for f sake. McCalman I agree should not be to blame he can’t help if he isn’t up to task. Jim Williams and Robbie Deans should be hung. I don’t give a shit if they win the WC this was some of the worse coaching I have ever seen. To not bring on subs at say 50 or even 60 was amateur at best. To all those idoiots saying give him a go. WHY. WHY. WHY? If u ain’t test quality u ain’t test quality. I am solo pollo rope able I am going to drink a bottle of bundy. WALLABIES U LET UR COUNTRY DOWN TONIGHT.

  • Al

    Just goes to show how proper fucked we are at the breakdown without Pocock. And for all the talk of the Amazing Aussie back line they looked out of sorts without Digby. Him and AAC and Genia are really the only power line breakers we got.

    FARK me we need Mortlock back!!

  • Roo

    It was over as soon as saw our team’s uninspired faces during our uninspiring anthem. That song really does suck the big one…. How’s anyone supposed to love their country and fill themselves with pride when that corny piece of shit hits the airwaves? Let alone fire up and play your heart out.
    And Deans, I will be referring to you as “Dingo” Deans no longer. You are less Australian than baseball. You are Kiwi Deans and always will be. You Player choices and use of the bench were absolutely deranged at best. I’m gonna struggle to be rabid supporter if you’re at the helm for another 3 years. PLAY YOUR BENCH YOU DUMB SHIT!
    Quade, save the hail mary flick passes for when the rest of the team learns how to receive them. They just make you look stupid and cost us dearly.

    I’m farkin spewin.

  • Michael Ryan

    Wow. This pre match assessment is probably the fairest and most honest assessment iv seen on the web. Most of your official media carriers were building up the Wallabies to such an extent that I honestly thought they we had found a new word for arrogant. Wallabie.
    I can expect arrogance from the English or the French, but Australia ? Your article has actually restored my faith in the honest Aussie supporter. I guess we can be cornered when defined by the paid hacks

    I’ve read the Sydney morning herald. AUCKLAND: It doesn’t get any more embarrassing than this for Australian rugby. The Wallabies were yet again shown to be second-rate by one of the also-rans of world rugby.

    Also rans? Seriously. Some world class players here. ! Irish teams are punching above their weight in european rugby, with indigenous players…. Thanks for the article and the quite fair pre assessment ( prophetic ).

    When the RWC is over can we borrow Rockey back at Leinster ? He played a blinder in Heineken cup final 2009.

    All the best
    Michael Ryan

    • Thanks Michael. Your comments are appreciated. That doesn’t mean I’m not bitterly disappointed in my teams performance! And after many years of watching Bryce Lawrences refereeing my opinion of it is no better. But we should of known what we were going to get and played to it. The Irish did it and they have hardly seen him! We play under him every super rugby comp and still can’t get it right!

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  • Oli

    You can have Rocky he is fucking terrible in a gold jersey

  • Athenrylad

    I’m going to be a Rugby historian for a few minutes. I don’t recall Ireland winning a major test in the Southern Hemisphere in the last 20 years. Ireland have lost 4 times to Australia in World Cups, 1987
    (35-15), 1991 (by a point, after Gordon Hamilton’s try ), 1999, and 2003 by a point also.
    Throw in a 20 point draw in Dublin, in 2010, and you find the gap isn’t necessarily that wide.
    I think Irelands last win over Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, dates back to the days of Ollie Campbell in the 1979 tour of Australia.
    So, Saturdays win was historic for Irish Rugby and sport in general. Sport can be a great leveller,
    and matches are never decided on paper.
    Regards A-lad in Ireland.


Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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