Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Wales captain Dan Biggar.
# Underdogs
'People forget that for the last 10 years, we've been the most successful team'
Wales have been written off this week ahead of their clash with Ireland.

WALES HAVE BEEN written off in many quarters this week ahead of tomorrow’s Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin, but there is strong determination within the squad to prove the doubters wrong.

They’re missing several experienced figures including Alun Wyn Jones, but there the injury list has allowed a handful of exciting younger forwards to step up for tomorrow’s clash at the Aviva Stadium.

With Jones and Ken Owens absent, they also have a new captain in out-half Dan Biggar, who is well accustomed to Wales being talked down ahead of the Six Nations.

“We always start as fourth or fifth favorites,” said Biggar today.

“Every year, we seem to come in behind the big three [England, France, and Ireland] as favourites and I think Scotland are ahead of us in the bookies this week.

“It has been the same for the last 10 years. But I think people forget that for the last 10 years, we’ve been the most successful team in it, winning it four times, with Ireland and England winning it three times.

“So it’s no issue for us, it’s no different coming into the tournament as underdogs. Whether we won it the year before, have a full-strength team, or players missing, whatever it is, it’s always the same.

“We’re just looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and getting into a real arm-wrestle with Ireland because that’s what it is when you play Ireland. You’ve got to match them physically and if you don’t do that, you’re in a bit of trouble.” 

The forecast for tomorrow in Dublin is not good, with rain and wind expected, so Biggar knows that the game will be about much more than the high-tempo attack that both sides usually aim to deliver.

“Another big part of the game when you play Ireland is the kicking game and controlling territory because they’ve got some of the best players in the world in doing that,” said Biggar.

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“The conditions will obviously be a factor with it being quite wet and windy by the looks of it, but it gives us an opportunity to show that we can get on top defensively and match them physically.

“Those conditions are going to play into who controls the territory and who controls the phases of play for long periods, which is going to be so crucial tomorrow.”

The Wales skipper is confident the likes of back rows Taine Basham and Ellis Jenkins, converted centre Josh Adams, and wing sensation Louis Rees-Zammit can help his team to take the game to Ireland.

“We’ve prepared really well, we’re going there tomorrow to really get on the front-foot and take the game to Ireland.

“As opposed to some less experienced lads in the group being overawed or intimidated by what’s an incredibly strong-looking Irish side, we’ve got to make sure that we have a little bit about us, that we go off on the front-foot and take the game to Ireland.”

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