View Full Version : Wales vs Ireland build up
<SONG>McLaughlin gives Kidney's options a lift</SONG>
Monday March 07 2011
Kevin McLaughlin has been brought in to the Ireland squad ahead of next weekend's clash with Wales in Cardiff, while Tomas O'Leary returns after missing the win over Scotland.
McLaughlin won his solitary cap against Italy last season and missed the first half of this season through injury. However, the 6' 4" Leinster flanker has five 80-minute performances under his belt since January and could be ready for a return to international duty with his line-out ability a bonus to a match-day squad that has struggled with a third option out of touch.
Also among the 12 additions to the 22 that togged out against Scotland is Rhys Ruddock, part of an impressive back-row performance alongside McLaughlin and Dominic Ryan in Leinster's win over the Scarlets on Friday and another player with back of the line-out proficiency.
O'Leary has recovered from the back problems that ruled him out of the Scotland game as Ireland report "no major injury concerns," which suggests Leinster second-row Leo Cullen's groin problem that forced him off early on Friday is not as serious as first feared.
However, there is no room for Isaac Boss, one of the stars of Leinster's win over the Scarlets, and the scrum-half slot is a shoot-out between O'Leary, Peter Stringer and the in-form man in possession Eoin Reddan.
Fergus McFadden played well in Tommy Bowe's absence in the first two Six Nations outings and is another player looking for a way back into Declan Kidney's match-day 22 after a superb showing for Leinster on Friday. McFadden's ability to play centre or wing strengthens his case for inclusion on the bench, while Ulster's Andrew Trimble has similar qualifications.
Mick O'Driscoll was Munster's man- of-the-match in Saturday's win over the Dragons and has also been drafted in alongside club-mates Donnacha Ryan, Tony Buckley, Johne Murphy and Leinster's Devin Toner.
Connacht have forward Mike McCarthy and full-back Gavin Duffy included among the 12, with Duffy a candidate for full-back selection given his proficiency under the high ball, an area where Ireland have struggled in the absence of Rob Kearney.
Wales expect to have centre Jonathan Davies available for this clash after missing the nervy win over Italy with a hamstring injury, while Lions prop Adam Jones came through his return from an elbow injury with the Ospreys unscathed on Saturday.
There have been calls in Wales for Warren Gatland to start James Hook at out-half in place of Stephen Jones.
The Welsh have a powerful line-out with Bradley Davies, Alun-Wyn Jones and Ryan Jones all over 6' 5" and Kidney now has options to match them, even though the strong performance of the Irish back-row may only mean a spot on the bench if he opts for McLaughlin or Ruddock.
- Hugh Farrelly
ruddock, boss, and ryan seem to have been outstanding for leinster, but only one of them get's in the ireland squad..
Wales owe it to fans to end Millennium misery
by Simon Thomas, Western Mail
Mar 7 2011
MIKE PHILLIPS says Wales owe their loyal fans a home victory against Ireland after a year of Millennium misery.
Warren Gatland’s men have gone 12 months and six matches without a win at their Cardiff base since they beat Italy in March 2010.
That barren spell was extended with the home defeat to England in last month’s Six Nations opener.
But Wales have bounced back with triumphs on the road against Scotland and Italy and Phillips says they next need to carry that momentum into Saturday’s Millennium Stadium meeting with Ireland.
Victory in that game, he says, and Wales could yet still have a say in the SIx nations title race, with a match away to France still to come.
“The Millennium is a great place to play, with the atmosphere and everything,” said the Lions scrum-half.
“We haven’t had a win there for a while, so we owe one to the fans really. We’ve played the top teams there over the last year.
“We’ve put in some good performances, but we need to get that win for the supporters and for ourselves.
“It has been a while since we’ve had a victory at home, so we need a big win for the support we have been getting and hopefully we can do it.
“There are some great supporters in Wales.
“Wherever you go, everyone is wishing you all the best. You go and fill your car up with petrol and everyone is giving you all the best for the next game.
“People in Wales are great and they are always behind you. You’ve got a few critics, but the true fans are the ones that get behind you and support you and we’ve got them in abundance really.
“We’d love to pay them back with a win at home now.
“Then that would keep us in the title hunt.”
Gatland is due to name his team for the big game on Thursday, with the main debate centering around who is picked at fly-half between James Hook and Stephen Jones.
There has been a growing clamour for Hook to get the nod, with Gatland also having to decide whether to recall one of George North or Leigh Halfpenny for Morgan Stoddart on the wing.
Adam Jones will come into contention for a place in the pack, but the returning Lions tight-head does not believe he is yet ready to start such a high profile game with the pressures that go with it.
Whichever mix Gatland comes up with, Phillips and his team-mates insist they aren’t giving up on the quest for Six Nations silverware.
Grand Slam-chasing England will take some catching, but the winners of the Wales versus Ireland showdown will maintain an outside chance of the title.
“We are still in it,” insisted Phillips. “You never know what is going to happen.
“You saw the cricket last week with Ireland beating England. You never know what is round the corner in international sport.
“Everybody can beat everybody in this Six Nations competition.
“First and foremost, we have to go out there and put a good performance in against Ireland and get the win our fans deserve at home.
“The last couple of games have been positive. We are getting a bit of momentum going.
“It looks far better again.
“It was doom and gloom at the start, but we are second in the table and we’ve got a home game coming up.
“So we’ve got to be positive. Anything can happen, really.
“We’ve got a bit of momentum and we are playing on our own patch with great support behind us, so we will be really up for it and go flying into them.”
Ireland, with victory over Scotland behind them, come to Cardiff determined to take the next step towards a Triple Crown. Their final match sees them host England in Dublin, while Wales are determined to go to Paris for their last game on a high
Read More <A href="http://www.walesonline.co.uk/rugbynation/rugby-news/2011/03/07/wales-owe-it-to-fans-to-end-millennium-misery-91466-28288901/#ixzz1FuZOkVAp" target="_blank"> ht
Fine-tuning required to shake some life into lethargic campaign
A few minor tweaks in key areas can get this Ireland side firing again writes Jim Glennon
Sunday March 06 2011
There is little positivity towards an Irish team which has two wins from three in the Six Nations Championship -- how success has spoiled us.
The two games left are away to a vulnerable Wales and at home against England, who will almost certainly be going for a Grand Slam. (Somebody said to me during the week that there are so many banana skins at the Aviva for England, the game should be sponsored by Chiquita.) So why the lack of positivity? First and foremost, there is of course the success of the last number of years.
But having said that, there is a genuine feeling of frustration, not only with the team but it would appear among the team also -- that they could be doing a lot better. The next issue is discipline where 33 points conceded from penalties in the last two games says it all. I wrote last week that two referees were unlikely to be wrong. I extend that this week by saying not just three referees but three teams of officials made up of nine international referees simply can't be wrong.
The breakdown appears to be the area causing the most trouble and a lot of the penalties are being conceded there. Declan Kidney obviously has issues concerning interpretation and he will continue to work on those, both on the training pitch and in the referee's room.
Either way, the ball being delivered from the ruck in attacking positions is not quick enough for our backline. We are now, for the first time in a long time, getting some quality ball from the scrum and Mike Ross appears to be doing a good job at anchoring, and a little bit more besides.
We're struggling at the line-out though and the backline as a result hasn't really functioned as it can.
Gordon D'Arcy isn't performing and this raises the question for me of what Paddy Wallace is doing on the bench. It appears that he won't be used in place of D'Arcy and he is not being used as a substitute so something has to give.
Wallace on the bench appears to cover only numbers 12 and 13, D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll. There are other options which could be used to much greater effect; Andrew Trimble, for example, who could give a far greater breadth of cover across the backline.
Equally, the question must be asked as to why Denis Leamy is on the bench as it is blatantly obvious that David Wallace, the openside flanker, will be replaced in every game and that is the one position that Leamy doesn't cover. There is a strong case to be made for the inclusion of Shane Jennings if we accept the necessity for having two opensides in the match-day squad.
The difficulties in the lineouts as well could allow for the possibility of a reshuffle in the back row to produce some added hype.
And while Kevin McLaughlin at 6 would be an option, releasing Seán O'Brien to the openside, my own preference would be for Rhys Ruddock to slot in. He appears to have answered any questions asked of him at any level at which he has played.
I suppose for the recent convert to the game it's reasonable to wonder what's gone wrong but for those of us who have been around a bit longer this is really a question of how can it be tweaked ever so slightly to put the entire operation in the groove.
It's more than possible that in three weeks' time we could be toasting a Triple Crown and a share of the Championship and we still mightn't have fixed our problems.
- Jim Glennon
I for one am more worried about the game away to Wales than at home to England. This will tell us where we stand imo
totally agree. but on the other hand, I'm of a mind that we could be using this as a trial game.. Losing it would be quite the prelude for a cocksure tan side the following week (ok.. i'm not suggesting we throw the game, but i think I'd rather stop an english grand slam than win an irish triple crown).
i think I'd rather stop an english grand slam than win an irish triple crown).
How about both?? smileys/confused.gif
my point is kinda that england are beatable when they are most confident.
a Triple crown will only irritate me in that that we bunked a grand slam against les blues for the 19th time this decade . .
Wales wary of Ireland attacking threat
Monday 7 March 2011
Only title favourites England have scored more tries than Ireland in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.
And Wales defence specialist Edwards believes Ireland will continue with their expansive approach as they look to maintain a remarkable record in Cardiff that shows just one defeat since 1983.
He said: 'Ireland were red-hot in the first-half against Scotland, and they also scored three tries against France, which was an exceptional effort.
'While they struggled a bit with their handling in Italy, they still created a number of chances. They are playing expansive rugby and scoring tries.
'It will be a big ask for us defensively, but we feel we are up to the challenge. I am very happy with the way our defence has gone in the last couple of games.
'We have some real power-hitters, and we will have to up it a level against Ireland because they are scoring tries.'
Both Wales and Ireland are still in title contention following two wins out of three, although the championship remains unbeaten England's to lose as they target Six Nations silverware and a first Grand Slam for eight years.
Wales coach Warren Gatland will name his team on Thursday, with James Hook likely to reclaim fly-half duties from Stephen Jones after partnering Jamie Roberts in the centre against Italy nine days ago.
Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies is back in training after missing the Italy game because of a hamstring injury, although full-back Lee Byrne is thought to have a minor ankle problem.
Edwards added: 'We have a couple of slight injuries, but they will be fine by the weekend.
'Lee Byrne did not train this morning, but will this afternoon, and Jonathan Davies trained this morning.'
Key to Wales' victory hopes against the Irish will be improved discipline.
No new injury worries for Ireland
Monday 7 March 2011
Manager Declan Kidney is expected to have fully fit squad to choose from after Tomas O'Leary completing 40 minutes of running.
Leinster's Leo Cullen was troubled by what was described as a 'slight groin problem' but is expected to recover in time for Saturday.
Both Wales and Ireland are still in title contention following two wins out of three, with Ireland still in the hunt for a Triple Crown.
Kidney will name his 22 for the match with Wales on lunchtime on Tuesday, and much of the focus will be on the number 10 shirt, where Ronan O'Gara and Jonathan Sexton and both vying for a starting role.
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