Melbourne, a city of almost five million people, is truly the sporting capital of Australia.

Most of all it's AFL country - Aussie Rules to you and me. Many of the top sides from Australia are based in the region: Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda, Melbourne amongst them.

They play their games at either the MCG or Etihad Stadium.

It’s not just Aussie Rules, however. Melbourne Storm rugby league are here, so too Melbourne Rebels who play in Super Rugby. Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City FC have their fans also.

The Australian Open Tennis is staged at the Rod Laver arena every year, Melbourne hosts the Australian GP, International cricket draws in the locals in summer and the city staged the Olympic Games in 1956.

Australian athlete Betty Cuthbert became the 'Golden Girl' by winning three track gold medals and her performance was equalled by American sprinter Bobby Morrow. Another Australian, Murray Rose, won three gold medals in swimming.

From an Irish viewpoint, the 1956 games are best remembered for Ronnie Delaney's victory in the men’s 1500 metres.

All of the gold medal winners are remembered because their names are on a plaque erected at MCG.

I came across it last Monday when the travelling media group, eight of us, went to see Collingwood take on Melbourne. 83,518 were at the game, remarkable value for $25, and we saw Collingwood run out winners by 131-91.

The Ireland rugby team find themselves in unfamiliar territory ahead of the second Test against Australia after a 12-game unbeaten run came to a halt in Brisbane last weekend.

Michael Cheika has named an unchanged Australia team for the first time in his four-year 46 Test tenure as Wallabies coach. Michael Hooper leads Australia for the 28th time.

Have no doubt, they will be better than last week. An extra week together gives them a chance to work on aspects of a game plan that perhaps was not revealed fully last week.

Ireland are 1-0 down in a three-game series with two-games remaining. Head Coach Joe Schmidt has made eight changes to his starting team for Test 2, EIGHT!

Does that make this week’s team better than last week's? Probably. Can Ireland improve enough to win against Australia here in Melbourne? Yes they can.

It’s been a while since Ireland lost back-to-back games at International level and it's been suggested more than 28,000 tickets have been sold for the game in a stadium that holds 30, 050 people.

A really big Irish contingent is expected for the game and the weather is expected to turn appropriately bad in the lead up to kick off.

Australia will take second place in the world rankings off Ireland if they claim a two-nil series lead.

I’m expecting an improved Australian performance, but a much better and clinical performance from Schmidt’s side.