Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Warrenball tag won't fool O'Connell

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell believes Wales are far more subtle in attack than in some billing

Wales boast far more attacking subtlety than their bulldozing 'Warrenball' typecasting, according to Paul O'Connell.

The Ireland captain has warned his team-mates to beware Wales' savvy dummy lines off the ball behind the scrum in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown in Dublin.

The Munster totem will be embroiled in an all-out tussle with Wales' own talismanic lock Alun-Wyn Jones for the majority of this intriguing round-two contest.

But the 34-year-old will still have one eye on events behind the set-piece and has challenged Ireland not to fall for any short-sighted views on Warren Gatland's attacking blueprint.

The Australian press coined the term Warrenball to account for Gatland's bruising, straight-running rugby on the summer's British and Irish Lions tour.

O'Connell laughed it off as Aussie kidology back in June, and said Ireland must do likewise this weekend.

"I think it's a bit of an unfair tag, obviously because they're big men you just think their game's all about physicality," said O'Connell.

"But there's an incredible amount of subtlety to what they do as well.

"I remember seeing that in the last two tours.

"Everyone just thinks they launch big men into midfield as the first phase for every play.

"It is something they do, but they do it with a lot of subtlety, they have a lot of animation out the back, pulling defenders away.

"And you saw that last weekend with the try that Jamie Roberts created for Scott Williams in their win over Italy.

"I think they have incredibly skilful players, incredibly talented players all across the pitch, and I suppose the fact they're all big men just adds to that.

"Warrenball made an interesting headline during the summer, but there's a lot more to their game than that."

Wales laboured to an opening-weekend 23-15 victory over Italy in Cardiff, while Ireland saw off Scotland 28-6 in Dublin.

Skipper O'Connell was forced to withdraw at the last minute with a chest infection last weekend, but has since made a full recovery.

Wing Andrew Trimble scored against Scotland in his first Ireland start since last summer, and has retained his place for the visit of Wales.

The Ulster flyer knows full well Wales' monster backline almost dwarfs the Ireland contingent, admitting Joe Schmidt's men have steeled themselves for a severe physical test.

"The likes of Cuthbert and North are the boys being talked about," said Trimble.

"But Jamie Roberts, Scott Williams: apart from Halfpenny all of them are massive.

"They are largely, because of their size, used to get over the gainline, to generate quick ball.

"They are good athletes but they are good with the ball in hand as well.

"So I think there's a lot of strength there.

"The likes of North are producing offloads and neat passes, and these guys can play a bit as well.

"So they are certainly not just there because they get over the gainline.

"We've got to be organised in defence, it's about backing each other up, work-rate, getting our shape right in the back-field, to make sure we close them off in the corners, and then just really go at them.

"If you go in half-cooked against Cuthbert or North you're going to get bounced.

"And that's similar enough to last week in a lot of respects, with the Scottish wings.

"They always play direct, and I think they get quite a good balance as well to be honest."

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