By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 9/11/13
Ireland will be looking to conquer a mountain in Munster when they come up against Australia in Limerick.
They may be on home soil but it will be a damage control mission for the Wolfhounds. Beaten 32-24 by Fiji and 42-0 by England, the Irish could be in for a 60-point or more thrashing at the hands of the Aussies. That would no advertisement for rugby league in Ireland considering this is the only World Cup match the country is hosting.
Limerick’s Thomond Park is a 73-year old rugby union ground with a lot of history and tradition. It is home to Munster, one of Ireland’s top rugby union sides, and known for its unique atmosphere. This is where Munster famously defeated the All Blacks back in 1978. Two years ago Thomond Park hosted its first ever rugby league game when Ireland played France.
It might seem a strange choice for the World Cup but organisers will be hoping locals familiar with the 15-a-side game will have open minds and give the 13-man code a chance. Those that do venture down for a look will be treated to viewing a champion side.
The Kangaroos have disposed of England and Fiji and will face the Americans in the next round. They are on track for the final at Old Trafford. Before that, a potential semi-final with the likes of Fiji or Samoa awaits.
However, first they must get past Ireland and coach Tim Sheens will want to test out some of his combinations before the knockout stages. Reportedly Sheens has named six players that are certainties, leaving seven positions that are up for grabs.
Daly Cherry-Evans is one of those fighting for a place, possibly the bench utility spot, and he will get his chance here to partner Cooper Cronk in the halves.
Ireland have been over-matched in this World Cup but have been seeded in a very tough pool. Mark Aston’s side have struggled to score points and if they manage to cross the line against the Aussies, it will be a big achievement.
Showing passion and commitment, and giving the crowd their money’s worth, is paramount. If Ireland and Australia can entertain the Thomond Park faithful it will provide a big boost to the future of the greatest game of all in the Emerald Isle.
But if the Kangaroos blow the Wolfhounds out of the water early and the score gets embarrassing, nobody really wins.
Considering it’s their last World Cup game I think the Irish will be fired up and play out of their skins. They won’t win the game, or even come close, but I expect them to possibly score a try or two. Australia to win by 40 to 50 points, but Ireland to be brave, and Limerick to be treated to some champion footy along the way.
1. Billy Slater
2. Jarryd Hayne
3. Brent Tate
4. Josh Morris
5. Brett Morris
6. Daly Cherry-Evans
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Paul Gallen
9. Cameron Smith (C)
10. James Tamou
11. Greg Bird
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Nate Myles
14. Boyd Cordner
15. Robbie Farah
16. Andrew Fifita
17. Corey Parker
18. Josh Papalii
19. Johnathan Thurston
20. Michael Jennings