'The Six Nations could be over this weekend' - Wales coach Warren Gatland suspects Irish glory beckons
Wales coach Warren Gatland has claimed Ireland could wrap up the Six Nations title this weekend, as he continued to lament his side's narrow defeat in Dublin.
Ahead of this weekend's game against Italy this weekend, Wales chief Gatland reflected on the first four rounds of this year's Six Nations championship and suggested the table could look very different if one piece of his jigsaw had fallen into a different position.
He also backed Ireland to win the Six Nations by beating Scotland this weekend, as he suggested England may lose in France after their suprise defeat against Scotland in the last round of matches.
"The Six Nations could be over this weekend," declared Gatland. "If Ireland beat Scotland and England lose in France, which I think they are capable of doing, then Ireland win the Championship and we’ve got a chance of finishing second, which is important for us."
As he looked back on his side's 37-27 defeat in a thrilling game at he Aviva Stadium, he reflected on the fine margins that decided what could be the decisive game in this year's Six Nations.
"If that pass had gone to hand at the end against Ireland, if it had gone out of the back to Justin Tipuric with a three-on-one, we score with a bonus point and are top of the table," he continued.
"The great thing about this competition at the moment is everyone feels there is an opportunity for them to perform. I think that’s fantastic for the Six Nations.
"It’s great Scotland were able to beat England. There are five teams who are capable of beating each other on the day. That’s how close this competition is.
"We don’t feel we are too far away. We are playing some great attacking rugby. We just need to learn from the last two games against England and Ireland in terms of adapting to the way teams are attacking against us.
"They came very narrow against us and very close off nine and it’s quite hard to defend that and hard to get the ball back off the team that are playing so narrow."
Wales are effectively out of the title running following successive losses at Twickenham and the Aviva Stadium, but Gatland has still made more changes than many might have expected for the game against Italy as he made ten changes from the team that lost against Ireland.