Wallabies fear Brian O'Driscoll's 'smarts'
November 12, 2013
Brian O'Driscoll can still affect a result, Ewen McKenzie says © Getty Images
Australia remain wary of Brian O'Driscoll ahead of the Ireland Test at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, recognising his smarts as he prepares for his 135th Test cap and last battle with Australia in his 15th and final season for Ireland.
O'Driscoll no longer possesses explosive pace, and he was dropped from British & Irish Lions team that won the series-deciding Test against the Wallabies in Sydney in July, but Ewen McKenzie says "he's got a real street smartness of how he goes about it".
"He's got a lot of tricks out there," McKenzie said of the veteran centre. "It's going to be a real challenge for us because whoever is going to be in front of him is probably only going to have a handful of Tests under his belt. Whoever we play, it's going to be a little bit daunting for our guys but a good challenge."
Brumbies pair Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani - just starting their international careers - seem likely to oppose O'Driscoll in the centres as the Wallabies aim for their first back-to-back win of the year, but the Irishman's presence and experience may yet see McKenzie switch 89-Test stalwart Adam Ashley-Cooper from the wing to No.13.
Adam Ashley-Cooper runs powerful lines in any position © Getty Images
"It's a good question for myself," the Wallabies coach said. "If I take [Kuridrani] out of there then I'm not backing him and he may feel I don't think he's up to it. I know they're not the finished article, but I back them and I've been backing them all season and now they're starting to deliver and enjoy that level."
McKenzie said that Kuridrani had improved with every Test start since struggling in his run-on debut against South Africa in Cape Town.
"He's scoring tries and he's difficult to handle and he's actually a very good tackler and he reads the defence very well," he said. "There's a real good opportunity [against O'Driscoll] to learn and do well so it's an exciting."
Tevita Kuridrani is improving with each Test © Getty Images
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September