Can Ireland Achieve Historic Australia Success Without Ulster Star Best?

Can Ireland Achieve Historic Australia Success Without Ulster Star Best?

Can Ireland Achieve Historic Australia Success Without Ulster Star Best?

Source: @Amarghi via Twitter

It is hard to believe that it is now three months since Ulster hooker Rory Best captained Ireland to the country’s third-ever Grand Slam, sealing the achievement with that fantastic performance against England at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day no less.

To say the success was celebrated would, of course, be an understatement, with the country winning all five of its matches in the Six Nations and finishing top of the table well ahead of their fierce rivals. However, the sport moves on and now the next major challenge awaits Down Under with a three-Test tour of Australia.

Big Test

As of June 4th, bet365.com was offering odds of 8/11 for Ireland to be successful outright during the rugby union tour, with Australia being back at 11/10 and a draw being 25/1. So will Ireland be able to build on their historic Six Nations success or will the Aussies be preparing to bring the side’s recent run of fine results to an end?

Well, if Ireland are going to be able to do the business and beat the Wallabies on their home turf for the first time since 1979, they will have to do so without their inspirational captain Rory Best. The player had been injured while playing for Ulster and while he sat out the club’s last game of the season, there were strong expectations that he could well have been fit for the first Test in Brisbane on June 9th. Sadly, however, the head coach Joe Schmidt was forced to confirm that Best’s recovery from the hamstring injury had not gone to plan and he would indeed need to miss the trip to Australia.

New blood

A couple of Irish players who are heading down under are Tadhg Beirne and Ross Byrne, who have been called up for the first time for the series. Australia have also not been shy in bringing new blood into their ranks for the Tests, with Folau Fainga’a, Tom Banks, Jack Maddocks, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Caleb Timu all getting the nod this time around.

Source: @FOXRugbyLive via Twitter

There had also been some minor concerns regarding the availability of Pete Samu, but he was subsequently released early from his Tasman contract and has been given the green light to perform for the Wallabies against the Irish. If the Australians had any concerns about the form of their opponents they have not shown it, with Independent.ie reporting that full-back Israel Folau told journalists he doesn’t “really know too much about the Ireland side”.

A major challenge

While that may have been the case at the time of the interview, it is safe to say that Folau and his teammates will find out quite a lot about their Irish opponents across the next month. With a World Cup on the horizon in 2019, the Test is sure to put a spotlight on how both of these countries are preparing for the tournament. While the loss of Rory Best is unfortunate, all of Ireland will still be hoping for another historic success.