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Edwards: 'A big ask' to stop try-hungry Ireland

Shaun Edwards accepts that Wales face "a big ask" defensively when try-hungry Ireland arrive at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Only title favourites England have scored more tries than Ireland in this season's Six 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 expect key players Matthew Rees, James Hook and Ryan Jones to all be fit for the game on Saturday.


But coach Warren Gatland's team selection might not prove straightforward, given the number of players currently nursing ailments.

A shoulder injury suffered by wing Morgan Stoddart means four of the team that started against Italy 10 days ago are carrying knocks.

Injuries permitting, it is thought Gatland will make minimal changes for the Ireland game after successive away wins against Scotland and Italy.

A move back to fly-half for talisman back Hook is expected, with fit-again Jonathan Davies being reunited in the centre with Jamie Roberts. Gatland is due to announce his team on Thursday.

Captain Rees and Hook are among the players Wales say have been "managing issues around training".

Experienced Ospreys hooker Huw Bennett has been called into the squad as cover for Richard Hibbard (shoulder), while starting hooker Rees has a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, Hook and number eight Jones both have calf muscle problems, with Stoddart and back-row forward Jonathan Thomas (dead leg) also being monitored.