Warren Gatland Admits Wales Will Target Two Of Ireland’s Key Men

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Grand Slam at stake.

Wale head coach Warren Gatland has admitted his side will do their utmost to and shut down Ireland’s halfback pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton this weekend as they bid to win a Six Nations Grand Slam.

The New Zealander says that’s the same approach they took in the win over England with Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell and says they’ve had success in the past against Ireland by adopting a similar approach.

“It will be the same approach we had with England,” Gatland said.

“We put Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell under pressure and Conor and Johnny are key.

“When we’ve had success against Ireland in the past we’ve tried to put pressure on Conor and Johnny and shut their space down. There is no doubt that when Johnny gets front-foot ball he controls the game exceptionally well. We saw against England that when we did put pressure on Owen we got some success from that.

Gatland says Wales have to put Sexton under pressure, but admits “Ireland have world-class players all over the place.”

“It’s very much part of the game — you look at opposition 10s and where their strengths are and you try to negate some of those strengths. Johnny is World Player of the Year and absolutely world class. We’ve got to try and not give him as much time on the ball and not allow him to dictate the game to us. We’ve got to put him under pressure, but in saying that Ireland have world-class players all over the place and they can keep the ball for long phases.” Gatland added

“They build on their momentum and our discipline has to be very good. Ireland try to squeeze you for penalties and when they do get a penalty, they kick out, drive the next lineout, try and get another penalty, and kick to the 22 to build phase after phase to try and get away with points.

“That’s what they are incredibly good at doing. We’re prepared for that and a big part is being disciplined ourselves and not giving Ireland too much of a set-piece to work off.”

[Irish Examiner]