Six Nations: Scott Quinnell looks ahead to Ireland v Wales this weekend
Last Updated: 07/02/14 12:43pm
Paul O'Connell: Centre of attention for Ireland
Scott Quinnell believes Ireland will attack Wales upfront rather than taking the battle out wide in this weekend's Six Nations clash.
While Paul Wallace told skysports.com that he believes Ireland will look to take advantage of Wales out wide; former Wales back row Quinnell, says it is up front where this game will be won and lost.
Defending champions Wales kicked off the campaign with a tough 23-15 win against Italy and while they did come in for some criticism for their display, Quinnell is happy with the result and the performance.
"They will come at Wales upfront; you don't pick Gordon D'Arcy and O'Driscoll if you are going to play this wide expansive game"
"Wales were rusty against Italy but they never start particularly well in the Championship," Quinnell told skysports.com
"They need to look at that but it does take some time for players coming back in to get back into the Wales way.
"It was a good win over Italy and I was delighted that Alex Cuthbert went over for the first try as it meant my Sky Bet Six Nations Charity Challenge came in - happy days for the Make a Wish foundation.
"This time last year Wales had just come off that heavy defeat to Ireland - that first half especially really gave them a wake-up call. Wales certainly did wake up and got stronger and stronger and I think they will do the same this year too.
"I thought Wales tried to play a little too much at times - especially from deep and they allowed Italy to come at them. Italy were superb though - they have found a 9, a 10 and a 12 axis which bodes well for them."
Next up for Wales is Ireland in Dublin and Quinnell is hoping that Wales are not caught napping like they were last year. In 2013, Ireland raced to a 20-0 lead before Wales woke up but had too much to do and lost the game 30-22.
"Ireland will come out firing again on Saturday," said Quinnell who scored 12 tries in his 52 games for Wales.
"They are desperate to give Brian O'Driscoll the send-off that he deserves. They will come at Wales upfront; you don't pick Gordon D'Arcy and O'Driscoll if you are going to play this wide expansive game - they have turned over more ball as a centre partnership in the last ten years than probably anybody in the world. That really sets the tone of how Ireland are going to play.
"Ireland's driving line-out looked very good against Scotland and I think they will look to use that against Wales as well. If they try and play too much rugby then I think that will play straight into Wales' hands."
A lot has been made of O'Driscoll coming up against Warren Gatland who famously dropped him in the third and final Lions test. However, Quinnell is adamant that it is all just media hype.
"All this stuff about Brian O'Driscoll and Warren Gatland- who cares?" he asked.
"The media love a story and that was the big one from the summer.
"Yes, they will hate each other on the field for eighty minutes where they will do their best to out fox the other: one will be sitting in the box working on tactics while the other will be making tackles and making breaks. That is as far as it goes; afterwards they will probably have a beer and a chat!"
Looking in a mirror
Quinnell says that is going to be a very physical and bruising encounter with the likes of Paul O'Connell, Peter O'Mahony and Cian Healy going up against Alun-Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton and Adam Jones in the pack. But it is at scrum-half where Quinnell thinks the biggest battle is going to be.
"Conor Murray against Mike Phillips is going to be very interesting indeed - it's like looking in a mirror for those two and they are going to have a real fiery battle," he said. "
"They both will want to run at each other, run over each other and smash each other up - it's going to be like two gladiators going hammer and tongues!
"The two back rows are wonderful too - who is going to win that battle? I'm not sure. Sam Warburton is back in the team and I think that shows how Wales are going to play - stop Ireland coming at them by using the big defensive displays of Warburton, Taulupe Faletau and of course Dan Lydiate.
"Wales will use their big ball carrying centres to get over the gain line and then drive around the close fringes. Ireland will need to counter that. It's going to be a very tight game but I will never go against Wales!"