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Martyn Williams: Wales have edge over Ireland in back-row battle


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If there's one man in Dublin this weekend crossing his fingers for a Wales victory, it's Martyn Williams.  

The former Wales back-row joined Ger, Brian O'Driscoll and Keith Wood for our Mansion House Roadshow in association with Heineken Rugby Club and had his say on how he expects the Six Nations clash to transpire at Aviva Stadium. 

"The players will believe coming here tomorrow. In the past maybe, we've come over to Dublin, been a little bit under the radar and not backing ourselves. But Gatland will make sure they back themselves tomorrow," said Williams. 

 

And on how Ireland and Wales compare across the field, he feels Wales already "have the edge in the battle" of the back-rows due to Sean O'Brien's absence, although he would like to see Jason Tipuric starting at 7.

The former Wales flanker is also increasingly confident about Wales' chances in comparison to three weeks ago when an injury-hit squad appeared under-powered.

"I just think the way it's panned out with the injuries - I think Henshaw, Henderson, Tadhg Furlong - that's an unbelievable lot of ball-carrying taken out of your team. I just think with Biggar back for us, Halfpenny back, we are... confident's not the right word because it's such a difficult place to go but they're 9/2 and let's just say I put a few quid on that for tomorrow definitely."

Williams also feels that Wales are showing clear signs of evolving their "Warren-ball" style.

"I think he learned a lot from the Lions, that the game has evolved and the game has changed," he said.

"He's just realised that we have got to try and expand our game and we saw them try to do that in the Autumn and you see them kick on again in this Six Nations. They definitely are trying to evolve that Warren-ball that type of game."   

Speaking of Wales head coach Warren Gatland, Williams sees the New Zealander as a much more relaxed figure since leading the British & Irish Lions to draw against the All Blacks in his homeland. 

"Getting a draw against New Zealand was a huge weight off his shoulders and he just seems as if 'look, I've got two years left with Wales and I just want to enjoy my time,'" he said.

"I think that Lions tour, I think he feels his legacy is sort of made and done, whatever happens from here on in. He seems far, far more relaxed back at home. He's even speaking to the media which he's never done before."

And he added that Gatland probably felt that he never fully got the credit he deserved previously. 

The full chat will be available as a podcast and on our social channels.


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