Gatland `up there with the best´ as Wales head coach…


The Wales coach, who will oversee his 100th Test for the country when they take on Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations clash, has the tendency to be gloriously blunt at times and the 54-year-old was in no mood for mincing his words on Tuesday.

Warren Gatland named British and Irish Lions Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar back in his starting line-up earlier this week after all three sat out Wales' 12-6 loss to England on February 10.

"We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too", Gatland said.

"We've got to make sure we don't get caught up in that, keep our patience defensively and our discipline has to be good".

"I thought the way Wales played at home against them previous year was outstanding, the kind of model and benchmark to take to Ireland".

"We have got to be physical against them up front, stop the running power of someone like CJ Stander, and stop allowing Murray and Sexton to dominate the game".

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Liam Williams replaces Josh Adams on the wing after proving his fitness for Saracens and Dan Biggar takes over from Rhys Priestland at fly-half after returning from a shoulder injury ahead of schedule.

Ireland unveil their hand on Thursday, but Gatland maintained: "I haven't thought about their selection".

Both sides have beaten Italy already in the competition, while Eddie Jones' men have got the better of Wales and Ireland were victorious in France. Our discipline has been excellent in the first two games - we only gave away two penalties against England. He's done well and we know how good he is in the air defensively and on attack.

Both Patchell and Adams drop out of the match-day 23, and Northampton wing George North remains on the bench, with Gatland opting for a back-three of Halfpenny, Williams and Steff Evans. "

"We don't want to use the fact that we have won two (Games this year) to try build up to a false sense of being complacent, where we're certainly not.


"There's a competitive edge to training and there will be a few tough calls I'm sure, but we're looking forward to those discussions".

Replacements: Dee, W. Jones, Francis, B. Davies, Tipuric, A. Davies, Anscombe, North.