Ireland name team for Wales game

Kelley Robertson
February 26, 2018

Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Six Nations game, Schmidt was asked if the perception of his team as a relatively blunt attacking force irked him.

They face an Ireland side on Saturday who have begun the competition with victories over France and Italy and top the Six Nations table, level on nine points with England, who have also won both their opening matches.

"He's very prepared. And when he speaks to you as a squad he references back to when he played, and he didn't want to be out on the pitch for long periods of time. There's been some really tough games", he said.

Ireland's record against Wales is poor this decade. "We've been to Cardiff and won a few times".

Gatland has been critical of Ireland's tactics in the recent past, saying that their attack is too narrow and predictable, and easily defended.

"I just don't think it's worth it with what's coming up and you don't want to put him at risk of further injury".

However, Schmidt will not be concerned by the potential Championship decider on St. Patrick's Day at this stage. Wales expect some of their star players to return from injury for this weekend's game.

"Yes, we're short on experience and we're up against a team welcoming back three Lions while we see three disappear, that's not ideal", Schmidt told a news conference in reference to the return of Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams for Wales.

Ireland will host a Wales side led by Warren Gatland, who will take the national side's helm for his 100th Test.

Gatland's pre-November claim that Wales' potential to win next year's World Cup in Japan was a greater motivating factor for him staying as head coach after last summer's British & Irish Lions tour than the hefty loyalty bonus built into his contract was greeted with scepticism.

Ireland have their own injury worries to contend with. He was expected to miss the first three rounds of the Six Nations.

This is a significant blow both for Ireland and for Leinster's hopes in the European Champions Cup.

Henshaw was a certain loss after needing a second operation on his right shoulder in eight months after damaging it scoring a second try against Italy two weeks ago.

With Jared Payne and Garry Ringrose injured the cupboard is fairly bare in terms of outside centres. Rory Best (captain), 3.

He added: "He is a loyal bloke who, when I played, always went the extra mile for the players".

Munster centre Chris Farrell will also make his first Six Nations start against Warren Gatland's Wales, while Devin Toner starts at lock with Iain Henderson also missing through hamstring trouble.

Saturday's match is likely to be closely fought. There are still four teams who can win this Championship. Justin Tipuric has been on the bench but you can't drop Navidi. "That's the biggest carrot for us", Biggar said.

Ireland's half-backs have been in dominant form in the two matches to date. Johnny Sexton, 9. Conor Murray.

"And he has the ability to score tries as well". These two will hold the key to Ireland's success.

The former Ireland worldwide says he remains "nervous" ahead of the vital Championship showdown at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

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