IT APPEARS THAT the Welsh rugby experts have not been buoyed into a state of unreality by their compatriots’ emphatic Six Nations championship win.
There has been a low-key build-up in Wales to the Heineken Cup quarter-final between Cardiff Blues and Leinster.
Most column inches have been dedicated to the fall-out from Gavin Henson’s behaviour on a flight back from Glasgow on Saturday afternoon.
Injuries have ruled out Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts and Blues have struggled in the Pro 12 league since clinching their quarter-final berth in January.
Gwyn Jones, in his piece for walesonline.co.uk, declares that the club were struggling before they were comprehensively beaten by Glasgow Warriors at the weekend. Now, he adds, they are ‘in utter turmoil’.
The site’s regular podcast, Focus on Rugby, has called the Warriors defeat and the aftermath of Henson’s sacking by the club as ‘the week from hell’.
Welsh rugby pundit Simon Thomas predicted that Cardiff should lose by ’10 to 12′ points against Joe Schmidt’s men. He commented:
I think they are lacking confidence. My experience in rugby is that every time a team is written off as badly, they tend to buck the trend. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if there was a heroic performance from the Blues and they got very close to Leinster. I don’t think there is any chance they will win it.
The Daily Post has identified Dafydd Hewitt and Gavin Evans as the most likely replacements for centre Jamie Roberts, who will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his knee.
It adds that Henson would have been the ideal candidate to step in at inside centre before his ‘alcohol fuelled’ antics on a flight back from Glasgow led the Blues showing him the door.
The club’s website features an interview with full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who was one of the Welsh stars in their Six Nations win this season. Halfpenny said:
A lot of the Leinster players are in the Irish team so it will feel like home to them in the Aviva Stadium but we have to go out there and do the same as we did with Wales.
Still, it is not all doom and gloom in Wales …
At least one Welsh player, Ospreys’ scrum-half Tom Isaacs, has decided to embrace humour rather than pessimism concerning the season ending injury to Roberts and the upcoming travails of Cardiff Blues.