Larkham wary of Irish threat

Australia fly-half Stephen Larkham expects a much tougher Test match this weekend when the Wallabies take on Ireland in Perth. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Australia fly-half Stephen Larkham expects a much tougher Test match this weekend when the Wallabies take on Ireland in Perth.

Larkham described England’s touring side as "average" after beating them 34-3 in Sydney and 43-18 in Melbourne to win back the Cook Cup.

"I’d have to say the England side was fairly average compared to England sides that we’ve played in the last couple of years," Larkham told The Australian.

"It was a little disappointing."

Larkham is therefore expecting a much sterner examination against Ireland.

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"It’s definitely the best Irish side I’ve played against over the past 10 years," he added.

"Not just because of the form they’ve shown over the past couple of weeks but because of the quality of player they can put on the field.

"They’ve picked a very mobile forward pack, a forward pack that will get across the ground very well.

"They will probably be a bit more damaging in attack than England as well, so there won’t be as many opportunities for us to attack."

Ireland showed great form in the Six Nations to win the Triple Crown before giving New Zealand two very tough contests over the past fortnight and Larkham expects the extra experience in their backline to be a big challenge for the Wallabies backs.

"Their backline – I don’t know what the stats are – but they have a ridiculous number of players with over 60 Tests," said Larkham.

"So there is a lot of experience out there on the paddock. They know how to play good football."

Larkham singled out his opposite number 10, Ronan O’Gara and, although most observers argue the Irish fly-half has defensive deficiencies, Larkham is wary of his tactical kicking.

"I think O’Gara’s kicking game is the best of any number 10 in the world at the moment," he said.

"England really struggled with their kicking – it wasn’t on song. But I imagine with O’Gara, our back three (full-back Chris Latham and wings Lote Tuqiri and Mark Gerrard) will have a much bigger job ahead of them on Saturday."

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