O'Driscoll the centre of attention - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Driscoll the centre of attention

By Darren Walton 11/11/2009 09:58:02 PM Comments (0)

Haunted by the ghosts of 2006, Matt Giteau says the Wallabies must learn from one of Australian rugby's darkest nights to keep their grand slam dream alive with victory over Six Nations champions Ireland on Sunday (Monday AEDT).

In unrelenting rain at Lansdowne Road three years ago, Ireland romped to their biggest-ever win over Australia, a 21-6 thrashing, after the Wallabies spent virtually the entire matched camped inside their own quarter desperately defending their line.

Brian O'Driscoll led the attacking onslaught and Ireland's inspirational captain will be back terrorising the Wallabies in his 100th Test this weekend at Croke Park.

O'Driscoll will again partner Gordon D'Arcy in the centres and Giteau says the Wallabies must wise up to contain arguably the world's most formidable midfield pairing.

Last time the two sides met in Dublin, Lote Tuqiri made one of his rare starting appearances in the centres alongside Stirling Mortlock and on Sunday Digby Ioane is expected to wear the Wallabies's No.13 jumper for only the second occasion.

"They've got an established combination there in the centres and last time we had an inexperienced pairing and they showed how lethal they can be and how they can exploit weaknesses in a backline," Giteau said.

"They created a lot of opportunities and I don't think the scoreboard reflected how heavily they dominated us, especially in the centres.

"So obviously we need to be wary of that. We'll look at the footage, look more heavily at the way they like to attack.

"But the biggest thing is just to give a guy like Digby confidence, if he is chosen at 13, and let him know that inside or outside defensively we're all working as a unit.

"That way they don't get those opportunities. Last time we played here, we probably left Lote out to dry a little bit.

"He probably felt like he was defending in isolation a lot of the time."

O'Driscoll reminded the Wallabies how dangerous he can be during this year's British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

"You saw how influential he can be," Giteau said.

"He's a player that a lot of guys look towards for that leadership. He's got a certain aura about him, especially here in Ireland.

"Whenever they play with him, they get a lot of confidence out of it. Individually, he can do big things at big times and big moments. He's a player they look for, a great player."

But far from a one-man band, O'Driscoll's class of 2009 is considered alongside Ireland's greatest-ever teams after this year landing the Six Nations title for the first time since 1948.

"Ireland is a huge challenge for us," Giteau said.

"Grand slam champions, they've got a lot of experience, they had a lot of players who went on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, so it's going to be a huge ask for us.

"When you look at the quality of players they've got in their backline, it would be stupid to think that they're not going to throw the ball around or not going to threaten you anywhere across the paddock."

Australia's forwards are also bracing for a torrid time, with hooker Stephen Moore labelling Ireland's back row as "possibly the best in Europe".

In the only change to the side which beat England 18-9 at Twickenham last Saturday, David Pocock will start on the openside flank, with George Smith reverting to the bench.

The selection is in keeping with Robbie Deans' rotation policy.

But is clear the coach now considers Pocock his premier No.7, with the 21-year-old getting the nod for the biggest Tests on tour - against New Zealand, Ireland and, most probably, Wales in two weeks when the Wallabies could be looking to complete the grand slam in Cardiff.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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