Latest from the tours: Ireland rugby in Australia and Paris

Ireland's Joe Dunleavy
Ireland's Joe Dunleavy

Head coach Joe Schmidt remains firmly of the belief that a few minor adjustments can make a big difference as Ireland look to level the Test series against Austalia in Melbourne on Saturday.

Ireland suffered their first defeat in 13 matches with an 18-9 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane in the open Test of three.

John Cooney

John Cooney

Ireland are firmly on the backfoot now and must win on Saturday if they are to make it an exciting finale to the Tour.

The expectation is that Schmidt will make a number of changes to his starting team for the second Test, with Johnny Sexton and Garry Ringrose expected to add some playmaking strength to the backline.

Up front, Schmidt could bring Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy and Sean Cronin into the front row, while Devin Toner may slot into the second row. A rejig of the back row seems likely too, particularly with Dan Leavy available for selection.

“He could have played [in Brisbane],” said Schmidt of Leavy, after the Leinster flanker was the only player in the entire touring squad who did not take part in the pre-match warm-up at Suncorp Stadium.

“We’ve been nursing him along a little bit. There’s a couple of guys, like Tadhg Beirne, who’s just had massive minutes. There are a few guys who are probably part of a longer-term plan through the tour,” said the head coach.

Schmidt admitted that it is tough to mentally get back up now because the pressure is on.

“The Wallabies will have a spring in their step. They know that they caused us problems and put us under pressure but they’ll also know that there were a few times that we opened them up and caused them a few problems. We’ve just got to make sure that we score in behind that.

“Making linebreaks and potentially being held up over the line or kicking balls out on the full when we’re in behind them, or losing the ball forward, or not clearing it from the ruck – if we can amend some of that stuff then hopefully we can apply a little more pressure and take the spring out of their step a little bit because I think when they’ve got a spring in their step, they’ve got some athleticism that can be very hard to contain.

“Marika Koroibete got tackled in the corner by Jacob Stockdale but he was flying, and when Kurtley Beale gets time and space to run around and look to counter-attack or have time to look across and put a kick up for Israel Folau, it’s tough to try to defend that.

“So it’s probably not the result we’ll look at, it’s those elements of the performance that we can try to do something about because the result at the end of the day is whatever it ends up being.”

Meanwhile, Ireland have made several changes ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s vital game against Scotland at the World Rugby Under-20 World Championship.

A win will ensure the Irish are not facing a relegation battle with Japan or Georgia on finals day.

Head Coach Noel McNamara has named the Ireland U20 side, sponsored by PwC, to face Scotland tomorrow in the 9th Place Semi-Final of the World Rugby U20 World Championships.

In the front-row remains Joe Byrne makes his first U20s start, lining up with Jordan Duggan, who and hooker Diarmuid Barron.

The second row is unchanged, with Jack Dunne partnering Matthew Dalton.

In the back row captain Caelan Doris pack down with Joe Dunleavy and Matthew Agnew.

Hugh O’Sullivan starts in the number 9 jersey and partners outhalf Harry Byrne. There is a new centre pairing, with Sean O’Brien partnering Peter Sylvester.

The back three sees James Hume and Tommy O’Brien on the wings, with Michael Silvester at full-back.