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Gatland hopes to answer critics with Welsh win

Wales boss Warren Gatland has dismissed Irish media criticism of him heading into today's RBS 6 Nations clash at Croke Park.

One newspaper columnist labelled the ex-Ireland coach “as rational as a menopausal warthog”, and then went on to fire a broadside at Welsh rugby fans and Cardiff as an international venue.

Those comments, and scathing remarks by another columnist — former Ireland lock Neil Francis — received widespread publicity in Wales this week.

But Gatland said: “It has to be taken with a pinch of salt, really.

“I thought if people were going to personally attack me, at least they might front up in person and say it to my face. That is why I turned up at the press conference today.

“If you look at anything I've ever said in the past, sometimes I've got myself in trouble because I have given an opinion or told the truth.

“But no way have I ever been personally critical or gone to the lows that one or two people did this week.”

Gatland is far more concerned with reviving Wales' Six Nations campaign after defeats against England and France — either side of a thrilling injury-time victory over Scotland — ended any title ambitions.

Wales' one previous Croke Park visit in 2008 produced a patient 16-12 win, securing a Triple Crown triumph one week before clinching the championship and Grand Slam.

Mathematically, it is still possible for Wales to finish as runners-up this term, but, conversely, they could also find themselves in the wooden spoon mix with Italy and Scotland next Saturday if Grand Slam title holders Ireland triumph.

Gatland added: “I think we are the only (Six Nations) team Ireland haven't beaten at Croke Park, and we would like to keep it that way tomorrow if possible.

“Ireland are very clinical, and when they get opportunities they tend to take them.

“When you have won a Grand Slam you are the top dog and everyone is gunning for you. People realise you are champions from the previous season.

“France were pretty motivated against Ireland in Paris a few weeks ago, and our challenge tomorrow is that we are against the Six Nations champions at Croke Park.”

Belfast Telegraph


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