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Australia coach Michael Cheika says this is the best Irish rugby team of all time

Ireland have been keen to talk up the Australians this week but Cheika has gone a step further.

Murray Kinsella reports from Brisbane

WALLABIES COACH MICHAEL Cheika says Joe Schmidt’s current side is the greatest Ireland team of all time.

While Schmidt and his players have been keen to talk up the Wallabies this week ahead of Saturday’s first Test between the sides, Cheika has gone a step further by proclaiming the tourists as the best team Ireland has ever produced.

Michael Cheika Cheika pushed the pressure back on Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“They’re the best team Ireland has had since the start of their rugby history,” said Cheika today in Brisbane.

“They’re coming down here as number two in the world. They can claim that they’re underdogs as much as they like but they’re certainly going to be the favourites when you go off the back of the season they’ve had.

“They believe they’re coming here to win 3-0, no doubt about it from what I’ve read and seen.”

While the changes Schmidt has opted for ahead of the first Test mean Ireland aren’t quite at full strength for Saturday in Brisbane, Cheika underlined the quality in their touring squad.

“I obviously know them pretty well around the people,” said the ex-Leinster coach.

“Maybe not as much a lot of the newer guys but they’re extremely competitive and they’ve got great players, out-and-out great players but also new players like Carbery, Ringrose, these guys you don’t even know, Henshaw, Ryan the young second rower.

“I don’t know Tadhg Furlong, he wasn’t there when I was there, but he’s been immense for them. So they’ve got out-and-out gun players, the back rowers as well, and they’re very consistent.

“We’ve focused a lot on ourselves this week. We tried to cram as much as we can into six days, so we’ve put the focus on ourselves and we’ll deliver some things that will try to make them get off the consistent game they play.”

Ireland boss Schmidt didn’t entertain Cheika’s assertion that Ireland are favourites, however.

“You can say what you like about opponents – it’s what you do on the pitch and I have no doubt that Cheik is very confident that they can deliver a performance that will give them the margin on the scoreboard they need,” said Schmidt.

“The last time they played at Suncorp they beat the All Blacks. It wasn’t some fortuitous victory.”

– First published 11.47, 7 June

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Murray Kinsella

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