Simon Lewis, Brisbane
Ireland assistant coach Greg Feek has urged the Grand Slam winners to be clinical or pay the price against Australia’s X-factor stars when the two sides clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Irish on Tuesday went through their first intense training session in Gold Coast since arriving in Australia for their first three-Test series with the Wallabies after overcoming the after-effects of their long-haul journey from Dublin last weekend.
Scrum coach Feek joined the squad on Monday having travelled from his new base in Japan, having agreed a job-share arrangement as an assistant coach with the NEC Green Rockets two months ago and his reunion with Joe Schmidt’s squad came with an appraisal of the dangers Ireland will face from a Wallabies side coached by former Leinster boss Michael Cheika.
“A lot of the Leinster guys have had Michael Cheika as a coach and they know that he drives them pretty hard in terms of the physical side of the game,” Feek said.
“You know they're going to come out and try to win some of those physical confrontations, so you've got that and you've got some massively X-factor players who can turn over the ball.
“If you don't look after it, it could be seven points. So, yeah, there's an expectation there that it's game where you've got to be clinical in what you do. Entry points into a Test match could be ill-discipline or a dropped pass that allows them back in.
“So, it's probably one of the things we've been driving - to limit our mistakes and stay in the game that way.
Former All Black Feek admitted it would be tough trying to second guess which players Cheika will name in his team on Thursday ahead of the opening Test at Suncorp Stadium but that would not be a distraction as the Six Nations champions bid to pick up where they left off when completing the Grand Slam with a victory over England at Twickenham on March 17.
“The headache for the coaching group of Australia is who they actually select as their starting team and that's a positive. We've had a look and you look at the referee, the conditions, everything. But the priority would be to make sure we have what we stand for and what we're about for the week.”
Ireland trained with their full complement of 32 players at their Gold Coast training base in Benowa, the Royal Pines Resort, which has been the home golf course to the Australian PGA Championship since 2013.
The squad completed their jet-lag recovery programme on Monday with some rest and recreation, some players going jet-skiing on the Pacific Ocean shoreline, others visiting a water park while some of the team management played golf at the resort seven kilometres inland.
Second row James Ryan said the group was settling in well.
“We had that in place and once we got here, we had to stay awake. We got here at 6.30am so we had to stay awake for the whole day, which was tough, but then I slept pretty well that night. For me, it's been fine.
“I'm rooming with (Dan) Leavy, so we're waking up a bit all right but it's nothing major really.
“This is an amazing resort. We trained on Sunday and we're training again today but yesterday we had a day off and some of us went to Wet and Wild, the water park, which was good craic. Another group went jet-skiing, so we got out and about to see the spots.
“We have another down day tomorrow so I think I'm going to go to the wildlife park, see some koala bears and stuff like that. I've never seen them and they look pretty cool, so that's the plan.”