Ireland lock Devin Toner says win over Australia would make autumn series a success

Ireland second row Devin Toner
Devin Toner is tackled by Kieran Read during New Zealand's win over Ireland in Dublin

Ireland second row Devin Toner says his side need to beat Australia in Dublin on Saturday in order to consider their four-game autumn Test series a success.

Ireland beat New Zealand in Chicago and defeated Canada at the Aviva Stadium, before losing 21-9 to the All Blacks.

"Australia have had a gruelling tour with lots of big games and they'll want to finish on a high," said Toner.

"I think we need to beat Australia to be able to call this run of Tests a success."

Ireland have moved up to fourth in the world rankings, courtesy of their victory over the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago on 5 November, and South Africa's surprise 20-18 loss to Italy in Rome.

The Irish bossed territory and possession and forced New Zealand into a string of disciplinary lapses on Saturday, but could not break the All Blacks' defence as they lost out to the back-to-back world champions.

Ireland players show their dejection after their home defeat by New Zealand
Ireland players show their disappointment after their home defeat by New Zealand

"It's hugely positive for the squad that win and then another performance against the All Blacks, and I think one of the big things for our confidence is the lads coming off the bench," said Toner.

"[Flanker] Josh van der Flier was excellent, he had a big presence and slotted in really well. [Centre] Garry Ringrose did a good job when he came on too, slotting in after Robbie Henshaw's injury.

"It's growing the kind of depth that the coaches want and have challenged us as a group to be able to offer."

Australia conceded 108 points in three straight defeats by New Zealand this year and also lost 3-0 at home to England in June, but they have beaten Wales 32-8 in Cardiff and France 25-23 in Paris this month.

Frustrated by Ireland's sluggish start against New Zealand on Saturday that led to a third-minute try for Malakai Fekitoa, Toner warned Schmidt's side can ill afford another similar opening against the Wallabies.

"New Zealand came out, kept the ball well and we felt like we were getting off the line and getting the hits in, but they were getting one metre here, one there," he said.

"But we've got to step it up again now. It's another big challenge and we have to move on quickly because we know Australia will be an extremely tough match."

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Andrew Trimble and Josh van der Flier on Ireland's defeat

Best set to reach century milestone

Jonathan Sexton (hamstring), Robbie Henshaw, CJ Stander and Rob Kearney (all head injuries) are major doubts for Saturday's game, with Van der Flier a likely candidate to replace Stander should the Munster flanker be ruled out.

The Leinster back-row man is full of praise for his skipper Rory Best, who is set to become the fifth Ireland player to win 100 caps, joining Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and John Hayes.

"Rory's brilliant, he just seems to be getting better and better with age. It looks like he's playing the best rugby of his career," said Van der Flier.

"He's a brilliant leader, a great captain. I love playing under him. You can see in the way we play how much he inspires us.

"He's an excellent speaker, he's very good at motivating us as players and the most important thing is that he delivers on the pitch. That's what counts most."

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