There ain't no way to hide those Lions eyes, warns coach McBryde
Warren Gatland's seemingly endless whistle-stop tours of the home nations took him yesterday to the Vale of Glamorgan and the familiar faces of the Welsh charges he has temporarily stepped aside from coaching this season.
There are many in Wales who might wonder should he have remained to steer them through a campaign that is threatening to derail spectacularly as they stare down the barrel of a second successive defeat at home and a plummeting world ranking ahead of the imminent 2019 World Cup draw.
Much of the talk yesterday was of the dwindling hopes that his choice of Welsh players have of making his Lions ticket the longer this underwhelming season continues, with assistant coach Robin McBryde firing out a familiar warning to his players.
"It is good to catch up with Warren," McBryde said. "It is good to hear his thoughts on the game and good for us to have another set of eyes. It is also a gentle reminder to the players that there are Lions eyes upon us.
"I am sure the Lions tour will be at the back of the minds of the players. If there is to be any chance of them going on that tour, they have to raise their game."
Doing so against Ireland will be an even stiffer task than the one which they failed so spectacularly to execute during a second-half implosion against surprise packets Scotland last weekend.
"Ireland are going to bring something different to Scotland, and we must be prepared," said McBryde.
"There is no magic remedy, no magic pill, you have just to roll your sleeves up and work harder until you get the next result.
"Ireland did what they had to do against France last weekend. They have got a strong set-piece, a strong maul and they are very clinical when they get opportunities.
"They are consistent, have a number of experienced players and a game-plan everybody understands, so it's going to be a challenge."
Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris - who both came off the bench against the Scots - are to set to start in Bath's Aviva Premiership clash with Wasps tomorrow.
Scarlets lock Jake Ball has been carrying a knee injury, but is expected to be fit to resume training next week.
Meanwhile, England star No 8 Billy Vunipola is targeting a potential championship decider against Ireland later this month as he returns to action for Saracens this weekend.