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Rugby HQ's Sean Maloney: Ireland Are The Best Northern Hemisphere Side

Rugby HQ's Sean Maloney: Ireland Are The Best Northern Hemisphere Side
By Conor Neville

Rugby HQ's Sean Maloney got up at the ungodly hour of 3.30am to watch the thrill-fest that was the Ireland-Australia game. The broadcaster, known for his entertaining, but sadly departed, Top 5 series, fancied Australia before the game.

We knew they'd be tough after rolling the Boks. But we still thought they'd get it done. I didn't think the Irish forward pack looked all that strong. I thought the backs looked pretty slick. I thought up front we might have had them covered but you can give up a 17-point lead. But they let 'em go, they let 'em go boys. Let 'em go too far.

After observing the November tests, or the Spring tour as it's known down South, he has little doubt as to who is the best side in the Northern Hemisphere.

I think the reigning Six Nations champs are the rightful ones at the top at the moment. When you roll the Springboks one week and then beat Wallabies, and again you've got to go back to last year, how close you went to popping the All-Blacks as well. Things are looking if you support the green.

Who were the best Irish players on show?

Sexton's brilliant. I'm a long-time fan of little Simon Zebo as well. And of course, the big fella, the big steam train, big Paul. He was just awesome. The big shot he put on Benny McCalman at the back end of that game summed it up I reckon, the way he carried them forward. He was immense. He's just a brute.

The Australians have had a curious month. While not on the same level of last year's November clean sweep, Michael Cheika's side have played some scintillating rugby and have invariably produced great matches. They face England again this Saturday. Maloney reckons it's one thing tossing the ball around and playing cavalier rugby but says the Aussies should think about reining it in once in a while.

It seems they don't have much of a fall-back though. It's all well and good to try and run it from everywhere. But I think they've got to take their medicine from time to time and not be afraid to play a bit of field position and a bit of territory. A week before against France we were just getting crushed. Their line speed was so good and we didn't have a fall-back. We just kept trying the same thing and we started going backwards.

The Northern hemisphere looked a bit less inadequate next to their southern rivals than they have in previous years, and Maloney believes the north has come on hugely.

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I mean England hung tough against the AB's. And the Welsh the other week, I can't believe they got blown out of the water at the back end. I think as a whole the Northern hemisphere has come up massively. And I think for the most part, outside of Italy, they're playing a really good style of rugby.

As for the World Cup, he is wary of making predictions a year out, he reckons Ireland 'can go deep.'

 

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