Friday, December 11, 2009

Nothing friendly about this huge clash

There is so much riding on the results of the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-offs with France tonight and next Wednesday, that is hard to justify the importance of the Irish rugby team's 'friendly' clash with Australia at Croke Park tomorrow.
Once Ireland are not involved in a Six Nations rugby or World Cup encounter people struggle to see how the result matters.
It does matter, hugely, and the evidence will be in the intensity of both sides in what is shaping up to be a fascinating battle.

Under Kidney, Ireland have a superb record of nine wins from 10 matches, what they don't have is a victory over one of the Southern Hemisphere's big three.

There is now the fascinating prospect of the Irish looking to expand their game-plan beyond the structured approach that landed the Grand Slam last spring.

They have the weaponry in the backline. Stung by a Lions experience that did not do his form or talents justice, Luke Fitzgerald looks ravenous this season and forms a quality back three with Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe.

Off the back of an exhilarating and somewhat exhausting Autumn series, Rugby Unions international focus is now shifting firmly to next years RBS Six Nations. Off the back of their hard fought 15-10 win over the reigning world champions, Ireland will be more confident than ever of retaining their title and winning their third grand slam. RBS Six Nations Hospitality for all of the fixtures in this years hotly anticipated competition are currently on sale at corporatehospitalitygroup.

The back-row contest promises to be one of the highlights. The Irish trio need to pressure Matt Giteau's breaking abilities at 10 and limit the turnover-winning capacity David Pocock.

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