Gatland makes three changes to team ahead of Ireland clash

Faith Castro
February 22, 2018

Most of Irelands game plan runs through Murray and Sexton and Gatland knows the half-back duo well from his time coaching the British & Irish Lions.

"I think whenever I've been part of a team that's been successful against Ireland, you put them under pressure". But it's always great to get in his head a little bit, so he's going into the game thinking 'They're targeting me today - perhaps I've got to do this a little bit different - perhaps I do this instead of that'.

"We've got to attack them".

"We're putting 40 minutes together here, 20 there, 60 maybe against Italy but we've got to get that consistency across the board to beat a team as good as Wales".

"I thought the way Wales played at home against them past year was outstanding, the kind of model and benchmark to take to Ireland". If we can do that, we have got a chance.

Fly-half Biggar has recovered from the shoulder injury that he sustained playing for Ospreys against Clermont Auvergne at the end of January.

Eddie Jones targeted 24-year-old Patchell before the England match and the Scarlet endured a tough afternoon. On top of which, he leads the defensive effort quickly and puts his body on the line.

Wales have a good recent record against Ireland. The way Ireland defend, they're pretty narrow and they're hard to break down.

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This will be Warren Gatland's 100th game in charge of Wales, but he played this down on Tuesday.

Gatland takes his side to Dublin this weekend on the back of swallowing the bitter pill of a contentious loss to England in Twickenham.

And Gatland had another subtle poke at his Lions" den, commenting that tour defence coach Andy Farrell "won't be happy with Ireland conceding 19 points against Italy'. They are unbeaten in their last three championship matches against them, drawing once in 2016. "They tend to be close encounters", Gatland said.

"They've given their forwards real licence to play ball and have that Scarlets look about them, the way they're attacking and pushing the ball wide. We've got a job to do to try and shut them down". "It's a nice milestone".

"It's too far away [an England v Ireland decider], and that's not me just batting the question back", Lancaster said. This weekend is about the game, it's about the players, it's about the performance and the result.

And when asked if he thought if Joe Schmidt's side were the best in the tournament Gatland said: 'No.

"I think Brian O'Driscoll's wife had given birth that morning, so we caught him on a quiet day! You live and learn".

What has been an injury-plagued side is boosted by the return of Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams and Dan Biggar.

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