Bouncebackability: Andy Farrell expects wounded Ireland to step up against Wallabies

Jacob Stockdale
Jacob Stockdale

The response by the Irish players following the opening Test defeat to Australia last Saturday has been described as “positive” by defence coach Andy Farrell.

Having led 9-8 early in the second half, Ireland eventually suffered their first defeat in 13 matches when the Wallabies scored a late try to secure an 18-9 win and given them an early advantage in the three-Test series.

Head coach Joe Schmidt is expected to name a strengthened squad for must win second Test in Melbourne this weekend.

Farrell said the players were ready to step up another level in their quest to level the series and set up a huge deciding match on June 24.

“The players have recated pretty much as you’d expect a good side to take a defeat like that,” said Farrell.

“They’re pretty angry, grumbly, walking around like bears with sore heads.

“We’ve had a couple of meetings and they understand the reasons why, as individuals and collectives, certain things happened.

“You forge a plan and once you have a plan in place you head forward.

“The key for the rest of the week is working out how to hold them back,” he added.

Ireland conceded two tries to the Wallabies last weekend and Farrell wants more from the team in a defensive sense.

“Decent at times, but that’s not good enough at this level in the sense that they are a very, very good attacking outfit,” said Farrell.

“We knew that before the Test, we knew that they would be very hard to contain.

“It felt like we did that by and large but you’ve got to be consistent with it.

“They hit you on the break very well, they play quick, especially at the breakdown, etc.

“We’ve things to work on but by and large to keep them to a couple of tries – albeit get away with a few that were disallowed – isn’t too bad because Australia are pretty used to scoring tries.

“We need to do better at the weekend, there’s no doubt about that,” Farrell added.

One player expected to start this week will be outhalf Jonathan Sexton.

Joey Carbery was handed the start in the number 10 shirt last weekend days after his move from Leinster to Munster was confirmed.

That Provincial switch was confirming Carbery’s status as the number two choice behind Sexton and it was crucial to give him exposure in the opening Test in Brisbane.

It was strange for Sexton watching from the bench - he last did that at the 2011 World Cup - and only nine of his 74 Irish caps have come as a replacement.

“It was a strange experience,” admitted Sexton.

““It’s not something I’ve done in a long, long time with Ireland, so it needed a bit of getting used to — running the Australia plays all last week and then it’s almost like a different type of game when you’re on the bench,” Sexton said.

“You’ve got a lot of nervous energy and you’re trying to figure out what moves we’ve played so you can play something different when you come on, so you’re sort of sitting there scratching moves off.

“It’s not something I’ve been used to with Ireland, I’ve done it a couple of times with Leinster but that’s why you want to start.

“It’s all about starting for everyone, you want to get that starting place.”

And starting is what Sexton is expected to do - potentially also as captain - and he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“We’ve got to bounce back, show a reaction, and performance a hell of a lot better than we did last week,” added the Leinster flyhalf.