Andy Farrell will not underestimate Wales in Ireland’s Grand Slam bid

By Sports Desk February 23, 2024

Andy Farrell is braced for a “war of attrition” against winless Wales and knows any hint of complacency could wreck Ireland’s pursuit of successive Grand Slam titles.

The reigning Guinness Six Nations champions are overwhelming favourites to back up dominant bonus-point wins over France and Italy with another victory on Saturday afternoon in Dublin.

Warren Gatland’s side arrive at a sold-out Aviva Stadium seeking to stave off the threat of the wooden spoon following narrow losses to Scotland and England.

Ireland head coach Farrell acknowledges Wales could very easily have been in contention for a championship clean sweep of their own at this stage and is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s certainly not how we view it,” he replied when asked about the visitors being written off. “We view them in the highest regard.

“It’s a Test match. It’s a war of attrition and they’re going to give it absolutely everything they’ve got.

“We’ve got to manage ourselves from the start of the game to the end in the best way possible because if we don’t we’ll come unstuck, there’s no doubt about that.”

Wales have not won a Six Nations match in Dublin since 2012.

Members of Gatland’s squad have spoken about a fast start being crucial to their chances of pulling off a shock success to snap that statistic.

“We obviously know what they’ve been talking about, coming out of the blocks and causing chaos and we know it’s going to be a fight, we know they’re going to make it as tough as possible for us,” said Farrell.

“But what we always concentrate on is ourselves and making sure that we put our game to the match, whoever it is that we’re playing.

“We have full respect in regard to what Wales are going to bring because they’re always unbelievably hard to beat and we expect them to be chomping at the bit.

“The two performances that they had (against Scotland and England), they could be coming here with two wins and no losses so we know exactly what we’re up against.”

Ireland are bidding to extend their three-year winning run at home to 18 Tests and equal England’s record of 11 successive Six Nations victories.

Farrell has triumphed in 23 of 24 matches on Irish soil during his reign, with a 15-13 loss to France in 2021 the only blemish.

Speaking of the record, the Englishman said: “It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s not something that I keep track of, all these bits.

“’Breener’ (Peter Breen, IRFU communications manager) tells me them every week but they just roll over my head because it’s always just about the performance and getting the best out of ourselves and trying to be better the whole time.

“That’s what drives us more than anything.

“I suppose if you have that type of mentality hopefully things will chug along in the right direction but it’s nice to be told these things on the periphery, so that you’re aware of the progress that you’re making.”

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