Canberra-born winger Mack Hansen has had a debut to remember for Ireland, picking up the player of the match award in a 29-7 win over Wales.
Hansen, who represented Australia’s under-20 team on several occasions, was eligible to don the Shamrock thanks to his Cork-born mother.
“If the game didn’t really go our way or anything it still would have been a special occasion, but for the scoreline to be like that in front of a packed out crowd, it couldn’t be better,” he said afterwards.
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“It’s all kind of come on pretty quick, but I’ve still been able to enjoy every moment.
“That’s been the main thing the boys have been telling me; just enjoy yourself and things will fall into place, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Hansen said family in Australia would be watching, before acknowledging his ‘new home’ in the northern hemisphere.
After struggling to secure a permanent spot in the Brumbies’ XV and with other Super Rugby sides uninterested, the 23-year-old decided to make the switch to Connacht, in the Pro14 competition, last year.
After just nine appearances for Connacht, Hansen was picked by Ireland coach Andy Farrell, and immediately repaid the faith with a stellar performance.
Despite some light rain at Landsdowne Road, Ireland’s speed and efficiency at rucks overwhelmed Wales and the passing and catching was sublime.
Equally impressive was the discipline; Ireland didn’t concede a penalty until the second half.
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There’s huge optimism around Ireland for its first title since 2018. Momentum and confidence borne from eight test wins in a row and all four Irish provinces reaching the European club playoffs overpowered an undermanned Wales.
Eight senior Wales players are out injured, including captain Alun Wyn Jones, and the second string couldn’t breach a waterproof Ireland defence.
It took an Irish error in the 75th minute for Wales to get on the board. Tadhg Beirne passed off the floor mistakenly to flanker Taine Basham to scoot to the nearby posts for a converted try.
“Strangled us, physically dominated us,” Wales captain Dan Biggar said of Ireland. “It became too difficult for us to get on the front foot. We need to find a bit more of an edge.”
Elsewhere, Scotland pulled off successive wins over England for the first time in 38 years with a gripping 20-17 victory at Murrayfield, while France play Italy tomorrow morning.
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