'They are under enormous pressure. Some of their players are getting older' - Gatland cranks up heat on Ireland
Warren Gatland has heaped pressure on Joe Schmidt and his Ireland team, suggesting a number of leading players are over the hill.
The Wales coach, who named an experimental team for the sides' meeting in Cardiff tomorrow, expressed his shock at Ireland's 57-15 defeat to England and said the visitors are "under enormous pressure" ahead of the World Cup.
Schmidt, who yesterday made 11 changes to his team for the game, will hardly welcome his fellow New Zealander's input.
Despite the loss to England, Ireland can replace Wales at the top of the world rankings with a win in Cardiff. Yet Gatland claims the visitors have serious question marks hanging over them.
"I was surprised by the Ireland result. They are under an enormous amount of pressure back home with a lot of criticism, given that they haven't progressed in World Cups further than they probably would have expected.
"There are a lot of doubts in the coaches' minds about who their best players are - some of their players are getting a bit older - is it a time to put some of the youngsters in?
"It's a massive game for Ireland that will answer a lot of questions.
"That's why I'm excited. It is a challenge for us. This is professional sport, and we can put a massive dent in their confidence and derail them a little bit."
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Peter O'Mahony will captain Ireland, with Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale and Bundee Aki retained.