Saturday 23 March 2019

Wales target Irish half-backs as roof row rumbles on

 

Gatland reckons the key to the game will be getting in the faces of Sexton and Murray. Photo: PA
Gatland reckons the key to the game will be getting in the faces of Sexton and Murray. Photo: PA

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Warren Gatland says his Welsh team will look to exert maximum pressure on Ireland half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton to get an edge in tomorrow's Six Nations finale.

As the two set-ups rowed about whether to close the Principality Stadium roof for the clash, the Wales supremo insisted that shutting down the Lions would reap big rewards.

With a bleak weather outlook, Gatland wants to close the stadium roof but he needs Schmidt's approval.

The Ireland coach does not have to make up his mind until today, but he pointed out that, when Ireland agreed to close the roof two seasons ago, the pitch was watered anyway.

The row only served to heighten tensions between the world's No 2 and 3 teams as Gatland named an unchanged 23 and Schmidt brought Seán O'Brien, Tadhg Beirne and Rob Kearney into his starting XV, with Quinn Roux, Andrew Porter and Kieran Marmion on the bench.

Gatland reckons the key to the game will be getting in the faces of Sexton and Murray.

"Conor and Johnny are key," he said. "When we've had success against Ireland in the past we've tried to put pressure on Conor and Johnny and shut their space down. There is no doubt that when Johnny gets front-foot ball he controls the game exceptionally well."

Irish Independent

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