Edwards warns of Ireland threat

Date published: February 3 2014

Shaun Edwards says Wales will have to be at the top of their game when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

Shaun Edwards says Wales will have to be at the top of their game when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

The two sides go into the second round of Six Nations fixtures with a win already under their belt. Wales downed Italy 23-15 at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday awhile a day later, Ireland got the better of Scotland in Dublin.

The two sides have shared some thrilling encounters in recent years. Warren Gatland's men claimed a key victory in the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final and were victorious by just two points in Dublin on the way to the 2012 Grand Slam. Last season saw Ireland get revenge with a 22-30 win at the Millennium Stadium and under new head coach Joe Schmidt, Edwards is expecting another tough encounter across the Irish Sea.

“Ireland's form at the moment is very strong – they did a very professional job on Scotland yesterday,” said Edwards.

“Having come to our ground and beating us last year, I'd say they are slight favourites. They're playing at home and are in pretty good form. Ireland have always been a skillful, cohesive team. We've had great battles over the years with the victories ebbing and flowing to each side. We're under no illusions, particularly defensively, with what we're about to face and we're hugely motivated for it.”

With the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray in his side, Schmidt has a number of attacking options available to him. Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Jamie Heaslip all scored in yesterday's defeat of Scotland and have Paul O'Connell set to return from a chest infection.

“We've got a huge job defensively this week against one of the top attack coaches in the world,” added Edwards.

“They scored three tries against the All Blacks in 40 minutes and three yesterday against Scotland. They have threats all over the park. They can attack through the forwards and they've got some very, very good backs.

“The player I've been impressed with is Conor Murray. He's a guy who plays with his head up and attacks where the opposition have a weak link. He has a good link with his number 10 so we'll have to be on our guard.

“We probably didn't get the points difference we'd have liked on Saturday but we played against a physical Italian team. I was disappointed with the two tries but there was nothing we could do about them – one was an interception and the other a turnover and kick ahead.

“We realise we need to impose our physicality on the game a bit more and hopefully we'll do that on Saturday.”