Australia vs Ireland: Greg Growden's Wallabies Test team

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would be relieved he has several weeks before having to pick his first Test team to play Ireland, as the majority of his key performers are well off their best form.

Nonetheless if Cheika had to select a 23-man squad today, he could easily come up with a competitive line-up, especially if he shows faith in the most maligned, most inexperienced but easily most enthusiastic of the four Australian provinces.

The Queensland Reds, long the also-rans of the Super Rugby tournament, have opted for a youth-first policy, with new coach Brad Thorn ignoring high profile squad members such as Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt, and instead opting for brash talent. This brave approach has prompted a wide range of performances, but when it works- as it did for about an hour or so against the Lions last Saturday- it is invigorating and irresistible. Here is a team showing that old-fashioned pride and passion can still work.

And with it has emerged some strong Test candidates. So much so- if a team had to be picked today- I would have at least five Reds in the squad, including four in the starting line-up- centre Samu Kerevi, No.8 Caleb Timu, lock Izack Rodda, tighthead prop Taniela Tupou, while the promising 21-year-old back-rower Angus Scott-Young, son of the legendary Sam, is worthy of a spot on the bench.

Kerevi's midfield defence has in past seasons been exposed, but this year he has lifted and been easily the best Australian inside centre. His exuberance and drive has been overwhelming, with Thorn clearly bringing energy back to his game.

Due to Kerevi's consistency, I would move Kurtley Beale to fullback. While Beale has been reasonable as the Waratahs No 12 this season, fullback gives him more room in attack and also hides him away from the main defensive onslaught. Keeping Beale away from the frontline is nothing new, with the Waratahs this season often shielding him when defending. While Tevita Kuridrani has been quiet in some Brumbies matches, he remains the most assured No 13 and usually lifts when the Tests begin.

On the wings, Marika Koroibete remains the most devastating finisher, even though the Rebels have grossly wasted his talents this season. For some inexplicable reason, they often ignore him during matches, with Koroibete having to either chase work or relentlessly tackle anyone and everyone because the Rebels defensive line further in has failed.

You just know if he was playing in a less inhibited New Zealand team, he would be such a dominant attacking force and probably boasting a bag full of tries. Instead Koroibete's impatience that has come from a lack of backline opportunities which has seen him score only one try this season is one of many signals that the Rebels coaching contingent is nowhere near as brilliant as some make them out to be.

Israel Folau will be a target all season as no opposing team is going to let him forget the controversy he caused several weeks ago with his inflammatory comments. So starting Folau on the wing is the smarter course, especially if the Wallabies adopts the Waratahs tactic of trying to utilise his high-marking skills via a Bernard Foley cross-field kick.

As for Foley, there is sadly no threat to his Test No 10 position. All other Australian Super Rugby five-eighths have either been pedestrian or poor, even though the Reds' back-up Hamish Stewart showed some promise last weekend. Still, Foley's needs selection pressure to ensure his game lifts.

In the scrum-half position, there's Genia and then the Nullarbor Plain before the next one appears. He is in a class above all else.

It is imperative that the Wallabies play their two best players- Michael Hooper and David Pocock- side by side, either as No.8 and openside, or blind and openside flanker. As the Wallabies are short of resources, they cannot afford wasting either on the bench. The choice of a third back-rower is somewhat limiting, with many candidates experiencing fluctuating form, but the most dominant has been Timu.

The most disappointing high-profile Wallabies player this season has been Adam Coleman. While he had an exemplary 2017 Test season, Coleman has been the Invisible Man during the Rebels' Super Rugby campaign. Often the only time you see Coleman in a match is when there is a scuffle. Coleman loves a stoush, but elsewhere he has been low-key. Maybe captaincy duties don't suit him.

So to give him the message that standards must lift, I would select Coleman on the bench, behind two who have regularly produced this season- Izack Rodda and the Brumbies' Rory Arnold.

Cheika will be wanting Tatafu Polota-Nau to return from England to provide some resistance to the Ireland captain and hooker Rory Best, as the local hooking contingent is underwhelming.

Tupou's scrummaging and general field work has improved the longer the season has progressed, and he has genuine presence, while Scott Sio is reliable. James Slipper and Sekope Kepu are the insurance on the bench.

Not a World Cup winning line-up, but one which would pester Ireland.

Possible team for first Ireland Test

Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Caleb Timu, Michael Hooper (capt), David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Taniela Tupou, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio

Reserves: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Sekope Kopu, Adam Coleman, Angus Scott-Young, Nick (Cash Cow) Phipps, Reece Hodge, Dane Haylett-Petty.