By Simon Lewis
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt is set to delay finalising his team for Saturday’s second test until early tomorrow morning.
It is believed the head coach is waiting until after training on Thursday here in Melbourne (overnight Irish time) to gauge how well some of his players have recovered from the bruising opening game in Brisbane last Saturday, which was lost 18-9.
Only then, it is thought, will Schmidt finalise his selection for a match that Ireland must win against the Wallabies to level the series 1-1 and take it to a decider in Sydney seven days later.
Last Saturday’s opening test of three at Suncorp Stadium was a bruising battle of physical intensity but Ireland’s only injury concern ahead of this weekend’s meeting is Keith Earls, who failed a head injury assessment after an accidental elbow from opposing wing Dane Haylett-Petty during an aerial challenge.
“There’s a few bangs and bruises as you would expect from a Test match like that, a few people that we need to nurse through the start of the week,” defence coach Andy Farrell said yesterday.
“They’ve been through their protocols very well and there are no problems.” Earls, Farrell said, was progressing well through his HIA return to play protocols and was “at this stage all good.”
Schmidt is set to reveal his hand at 4.30am Irish time on Thursday with changes anticipated to include returns to the starting line-up for a number of Leinster’s double-winning frontliners who were either named as replacements last weekend or rested.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton and props Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy each saw first-test action off the bench at Suncorp Stadium while centre Garry Ringrose, flanker Dan Leavy, and lock Devin Toner could also feature having sat out the defeat.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.