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Lions eyes are on Welsh, warns McBryde

By David Kelly

Warren Gatland's seemingly endless whistle-stop tour of the home nations took him to the Vale of Glamorgan yesterday and the familiar faces of the Welsh charges he has temporarily stepped aside from coaching this season.

There are many in Wales who might wonder should he have remained to steer them through a campaign that is threatening to derail spectacularly as they stare down the barrel of a second successive defeat at home and a plummeting world ranking ahead of the 2019 World Cup draw.

Much of the talk yesterday was of the dwindling hopes that his choice of Welsh players have of making his Lions ticket, with assistant coach Robin McBryde firing out a familiar warning.

"It is good to catch up with Warren," McBryde said. "It is good to hear his thoughts and good for us to have another set of eyes. It is also a reminder to the players that there are Lions eyes upon us.

"I am sure the Lions tour will be at the back of the minds of the players. If there is to be any chance of them going on that tour, they have to raise their game."

Doing so against Ireland will be an even stiffer task than the one which they failed so spectacularly to execute during a second-half implosion against Scotland.

"Ireland are going to bring something different to Scotland, and we must be prepared," said McBryde. "There is no magic remedy, you just have to roll your sleeves up and work harder.

"Ireland did what they had to do against France. They have got a strong set-piece, a strong maul and they are very clinical.

"They are consistent, have a number of experienced players and a game plan everybody understands, so it's a challenge."

Meanwhile, England star Billy Vunipola is targeting a potential Championship decider against Ireland later this month as he returns for Saracens this weekend.

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