One of our favourite Australians here at Balls is Seanny Maloney of Rugby HQ. The same Seanny Maloney that brought us the wonderful Top 5 moments and the plays of the week. With the Australians coming to town this week, we'd thought that we'd honour Seanny with some top 5's of our own, continuing with the Top 5 Australian threats to Ireland this week.
5. Sekope Kepu
It's odd to put a tighthead prop as a threat to anyone in a match, not least an Australian tighthead prop. Historically, to call the Australian scrum atrocious would be generous, they've been that bad. But in Kepu, the seeds of scrum competitiveness and almost dominance. Kepu is making the Australian scrum relevant, and with such a big weakness in their game now.
Such is the improvement in the Australian scrum, that the Australian media think this might be an area that Australia have an advantage over Ireland this weekend.
4. Henry Speight
Introducing Henry Speight, a 6'1'' and 15 stone Fijian born winger. Speight is possibly the best winger at Australia's disposal. Strong and quick, with fantastic finishing skills, Speight has recorded 22 tries in 56 Brumbies appearances and was a big reason for their run to the Super Rugby final in 2013.
The video above is a nice bit of analysis of the three ways Speight can hurt Ireland, with his power fending off tackles, his awareness of an offload, and straight running through midfield.
3. Israel Folau
What can you say about Israel Folau that hasn't already been said. I'm sorry to say that Rob Kearney is no longer the best rugby player in the air. Folau's aerial skills have long been heralded since his rugby league days, before his unfortunate switch to AFL. Jonny Sexton already knows how devastating Folau's step can be, but it's his lines of running of playmakers that sets him apart from his peers. If/When Kurtley Beale comes on, expect Folau's influence and threat to increase exponentially.
2. Kurtley Beale
After a tumultuous year for Kurtley Beale filled with off the field issues, Beale has been called up to the Australian squad for the games against Ireland and England. This means that Ireland have another playmaker to worry about, and one who has achieved some of his best form under Cheika at the Waratahs.
On the field, Beale has been at the centre of all of the good Australian play this year. His introduction onto the field against South Africa changed the game. Brought on in the 73rd minute, lead directly to Rob Horne's match winning try. His threat will be increased when coming on against a flagging Irish team.
1. Tevita Kuridrani
One of the brightest sparks of Australian rugby this year, Kuridrani is a powerful weapon in the Australian backline that they aren't used to having. His running style off playmakers like Foley, Beale or Cooper can rip defenses to shreds, but he also has the ability to break tackles for fun off slow ball, as evidenced by his try against Wales this November. Kuridrani will want to make up for his red card in Dublin last year, and will be a big threat to whoever his defending against him in the centres for Ireland this week.