Sam Warburton on the big Ireland change that teams can’t “cope with”


Ireland have gotten their 2024 Six Nations campaign off to the perfect start with maximum points so far following bonus-point wins against France and Italy.

The heartbreak of last year’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final still lingers for most, but the Irish players appear to have no hangover from the tournament and have come out of the blocks with a bang this year.

An area that has been troublesome for Ireland, and the provinces to a certain extent, is that teams have been known to almost “overpower” the men in green at some stage but former Wales captain Sam Warburton believes they have addressed that issue.

“How good have they been in this Six Nations so far? Truly outstanding,” Warburton wrote in his Times column.

“And the next question I would ask is not whether anyone can cope with them in this tournament, but whether anyone can cope with them for the next few years…

“There is something noticeably different about Ireland now, compared even with the World Cup last autumn. I have watched their two matches, and one thought has consumed me throughout: they look so much more powerful than before.”

Warburton praised the addition of 6ft 6in lock Joe McCarthy and the improvement from players like Bundee Aki and Dan Sheehan.

“In the past, it has been a criticism thrown at them, and indeed, Leinster, that they could be overpowered, but not now,” he added.

“Everyone has upped their level of physicality, with the lock Joe McCarthy a brilliant addition, but the likes of Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Beirne, and Dan Sheehan have noticeably increased their effectiveness in contact…

“This is taking them to another level, one which I don’t think any team in the Six Nations can cope with.”

Follow Me