Stifling Wallaby duo key: Ireland

Will Genia, seen taking part in a Wallabies training session in Auckland, is seen as a big threat...
Will Genia, seen taking part in a Wallabies training session in Auckland, is seen as a big threat by the Ireland team, who play Australia in Auckland tomorrow. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel
Ireland are planning to put as much pressure on Australia's inside half pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper as possible to turn the devastating duo into Wallaby weaknesses ahead of the teams' pivotal Pool C clash at Eden Park on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Genia and flyhalf Cooper have been the standout halfback pairing in world rugby in recent times, leading the Wallabies to a first Tri-Nations title since 2001 with an instinctive running game that has left defence coaches at a loss to stop them.

Ireland defence coach Les Kiss, an Australian who worked with Sydney-based Super rugby side, the New South Wales Waratahs, said the way to combat the Queensland pair was to shorten their decision-making time.

"They are critical to what they do in their game," Kiss told reporters at Eden Park on Friday, after joking that Ireland would be best served by having them locked up before the game.

"Cooper does rely on what Genia can do to the defence around the ruck area so obviously we have focused on that area in terms of closing down the options that Genia does have."

The pair helped Australia cut loose in the second half of their 32-6 win over Italy in their World Cup opener on Sunday after the Azzurri had done well to stifle them early.

The flyhalf in particular, labelled 'Public Enemy Number One' in New Zealand after his clashes with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in recent matches, would be placed under the blowtorch, Kiss said.

"We just have to find the right moment to put the right pressure on what he wants to do and if the right pressure is there, then he has to ask the question whether he is up to it," he added.

"People respond to pressure in different ways and I guess in these big moments that is what it is about."

Ireland, who laboured to a 22-10 win over the United States on Sunday, have selected three big, quick, ball-carrying loose forwards in Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Stephen Ferris for the match which is expected to decide the winners of Pool C.

The trio are competitive at the breakdown but not of the calibre of Wallaby flanker David Pocock, meaning they would be charged with attacking Cooper and Genia at every opportunity to put the Irish on the front foot.

While Cooper offers an array of skills in attack, Australia coach Robbie Deans has opted to position him at fullback in the defensive line to combat his weaknesses in that area.

For that reason, the thumb injury that has ruled out Digby Ioane is an untimely blow for Deans, given the winger normally defends Cooper's flyhalf position. Kiss expects winger James O'Connor to fill the void on Saturday.

"Digby being out they will have to address how they approach that 10 channel in terms of their defence. Their selection is interesting," Kiss said after his team went through final preparations on the Eden Park pitch.

"James has done it a number of times before when he played at 10 and 12 so I'm presuming they will put him at that channel.

"Is it hiding him (Cooper) or being smart? I don't know."

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