Brisbane - Australia coach Michael Cheika says he is looking
forward to the return of David Pocock to spur the Wallabies to victory over Six
Nations champions Ireland in Brisbane on Saturday.
The influential Pocock - playing his first international
since taking a rugby sabbatical last year - will play in the unfamiliar
position of blindside flanker, with skipper Michael Hooper preferred at
The second-ranked Irish are on the crest of a wave, having
won their last 12 internationals and this year's Six Nations tournament, but
have not won in Australia since 1979.
While Cheika, who coached Irish province Leinster to their
first-ever European Cup in 2009, rates this as the best Irish side of all time,
he says the Wallabies can cause an upset.
"I believe we can win. I can see a good young
generation coming through here in Australia," Cheika said on Friday.
"It's an opportunity to build a new look for the game
here and make the Wallabies what they talk about the game in Australia, rather
than some of the other stuff that's going on."
Cheika said Pocock's leadership was invaluable but warned
that breakdown turnovers would be at a premium against the well-organised
"We all talk about Poey's (Pocock's) on the ground work
but that's going to be very hard against Ireland," he said.
"They commit strongly to the attacking ruck, they've
got a lot of numbers there and they're very good at recycling."
Cheika praised Ireland for their dramatic Six Nations win
against France and said Pocock would be challenged by the visitors.
"It's not going to be easy to work that type of magic
that he normally does but he's got a lot more facets to his game."
"He can distribute ball, he's a good carrier, he's a
great defender and has got unbelievable work ethic which is really
Hooper, who is also a premier ball scavenger, said Ireland's
attacking ruck was notoriously tough to crack but he backed Pocock to make his
"As far as his on-field stuff, it speaks for itself in
how he can change a game and get a turnover to change momentum," Hooper
told reporters on Friday.
"And then the experience on the field allows the game
managers and myself to lean on someone for a good voice there to get the team
on the right path."
Hooper said the Wallabies were aiming to attack Ireland through
their star-studded backs - Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel
"We'd be silly not to run the ball with some of the
strike power we've got," Hooper said.
"We've got a really fit team, forwards who want to work
and can get over the advantage line with a mobile back row."
The Wallabies were forced into a late change on Friday, with
prop Tom Robertson replacing reserve forward Allan Alaalatoa, who injured an
ankle in Thursday's training.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Reece Hodge
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Iain Henderson, 4 James Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath
Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Jordan Larmour