One last push. The bodies may ache more than usual after that punishing Test against the All Blacks but Ireland have a chance to finish the year on a high against Australia this Saturday and Andrew Trimble believes the players will not lack for motivation.
Trimble and company will drag their tired frames into the Aviva Stadium this weekend anxious not to allow any further dulling of the sheen from their historic victory over New Zealand in Chicago. Last Saturday’s revenge mission by the world champions came with the addition of bruises to the disappointment but the visit of a rejuvenated Wallabies, ranked one place above Ireland at third in the world, has sharply focused minds and the expectation is that bodies will follow in time for kick-off.
“It’s certainly there,” Trimble said of the fatigue. “It was a very, very tough game to be honest. After Chicago, we had the following weekend off but we trained unbelievably hard that week as well, it was almost like a pre-season week. So, we didn’t really get a break or get rested.
“This week, I felt horrific on Sunday morning; didn’t feel too great yesterday either and then this morning everyone is starting to get back to themselves again. I, certainly, feel better having trained this morning, having gotten out there to stretch the legs a bit, it gets you ready for the rest of the week.
“But it’s such a quick turnaround between high-intensity Test match rugby. Two weeks in a row is tough, it’s gonna be a big ask. The disappointment of last week is hopefully going to push us forward to go on further and push on.”
Australia’s disappointments of the summer, when they were swept by England in their three-Test series Down Under and then failed to rise to the All Blacks’ challenge in the Rugby Championship, has dissipated on their end of season tour, wins over Wales, Scotland and France restoring some vim to the 2015 World Cup finalists as they enter their third year under Michael Cheika.
“You would be naive to say they are still the side that got beat by England,” Trimble said. “I think they have come on a long way, that is not the side that we will be playing at the weekend. Even if you look at some of their recent results, they are performing really well, making gainline, having ambition and they have come a long way from that. We have got to look at that. It is going to be a big challenge, we are going to have our hands full.
“As a winger, you’ve got to be pretty aware of their kick-threat; nine-10 axis is key as well.
“Obviously, getting in the air isn’t going to be easy with (full-back Israel) Folau there too, so there’s a lot of things we have to look at, we have to be pretty clever in manipulating that back field and looking after ourselves.
“We’ll want to get a little bit more out of our defence this week, a bit more confrontation, a bit more off the line. There’s a few things to look at definitely.”
For Ireland, having given their all in two demanding Tests with New Zealand, trying to peak once more for the Wallabies’ return to Dublin is another stiff test of their strength. Trimble said there would be “no excuse” for a drop off in performance this Saturday but he conceded: “It’s a big challenge definitely and something you’ve got to get your head around.
“It’s important that we don’t take that disappointment (of losing last weekend) ... there’s elements of the disappointment that you want to take in, the frustration and bit of heartache of feeling like we let that one slip. It’s important we take that, that that maybe just drives us.
“It’s one big, big effort this week just to get over the line and get a big performance, a big result that will make it all worthwhile.”
Certainly with victories already this year over the Springboks in South Africa and then the first win against New Zealand, beating Australia this weekend would give Ireland a first sweep of sorts over the big three Southern Hemisphere nations. Trimble though is keen to remind that the Irish lost the second and third Tests to the Boks as well as the rematch with the All Blacks.
“My thinking on it is when we were in South Africa we got that big win and it was ground-breaking stuff and it was a first for an Irish team and we were very proud of what we accomplished but we didn’t kick on.
“Ultimately, the feeling at the end of the Tour was disappointment.
“At the end of this autumn, if we don’t kick on that will be probably the same feeling. Ultimately, it is about the way we kick on.
“We can either become a side that does it every now and again or we can become a side that consistently performs and consistently beats the best teams in the world and that’s where we want to be.”
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