Ireland 'arguably the best side in world rugby'
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Assistant coach Robin McBryde believes Wales will face “arguably the best side in world rugby” when they chase the Six Nations title and Grand Slam glory against Ireland on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt’s Ireland stand between Wales and a record third clean sweep during head coach Warren Gatland’s reign in his final game in the championship.
Ireland, last year’s Grand Slam winners, can still win the tournament, while second-placed England, who host Scotland at Twickenham, are also in the title mix.
But unbeaten leaders Wales occupy pole position, knowing that a win at the Principality Stadium will be enough to land European rugby’s biggest double prize.
“We know it will be a big test for us,” Wales assistant coach McBryde said on Tuesday.
“We have put ourselves in a great position and it’s a chance in a lifetime for some of these boys, and that is not lost on anybody.
“We are facing arguably the best side in world rugby to do that on the weekend. It would be no mean feat in the Six Nations, and games can be decided on small margins and decisions.
“New Zealand have not played for a while, but I would say they [Ireland] are the team to beat at the moment,” he added.
Gatland, will leave his Wales post after the end of this year’s World Cup, is due to name his team on Thursday, with McBryde reporting that fullback Liam Williams is “moving in the right direction” after going off injured against Scotland at Murrayfield at the weekend.
McBryde acknowledged the threat posed by Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton and he also underlined a need for improved discipline, with Wales considerably weaker in that key area against Scotland than they had been in defeating England two weeks earlier.
“It is important we put a number of their decision-makers under pressure,” McBryde said.
“The spine of their team is a very strong one and you can’t single out one individual.
“Having said that, Johnny is very influential on the game, as any world-class No10 is. We have to go about our work legally and ask questions of them.
“We have got to be disciplined. That’s one thing we have got to improve from the weekend against Scotland because we gave them numerous opportunities within 10 metres of our line.
“As Ireland showed against France, if you give them the same opportunities, they will take them.”