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Dublin: 8°C Friday 16 April 2021

Schmidt sees 'opportunity' for Wales to do Ireland a favour against England

A riveting Six Nations clash takes place this evening at Principality Stadium.

THE CHANCES OF Ireland winning the Six Nations are slim, but Joe Schmidt isn’t the kind of character to give up on something that remains possible – particularly when it’s in relation to winning.

That means the Ireland boss will be tuning into Wales’ clash with England in Cardiff this evening [KO 4.45pm] with a keen interest, hoping that Warren Gatland’s men can beat the English.

pjimage Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland go head-to-head this evening. Source: Inpho

Bonus points would still play a part, but a win for the Welsh today could mean Ireland potentially heading to Principality Stadium on the final day of the Six Nations still in the running for an unlikely championship success.

“I don’t gamble,” said Schmidt with a smile when asked who he would bet on in today’s clash in Cardiff.

“I do like the horses… I’m not actually allowed to bet on rugby, it’s outside the World Rugby protocols so I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question.”

However, Schmidt believes the Welsh are in with a chance of knocking over Eddie Jones’ chariot, particularly with Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje missing from the England team.

“I don’t think they’re playing the same team,” said Schmidt. “I do think without Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola… Mako Vunipola, it was as good a performance [against Ireland] from a front-rower outside of the set-piece – and I’m not demeaning his set-piece – but around the park, I thought Mako Vunipola was exceptional.

“Maro Itoje, you know what he brings to a team. Even if he got a bit lucky, that edge he brings on the day was really productive for them. There were obviously other guys who performed behind that.

“I think it’s an opportunity for Wales minus those two guys. Now the strength in depth that England have, I think Joe Launchbury is a super player. I think it’s a big game for Ben Moon to replace a guy like Marko Vunipola and Ellis Genge is an exciting young player but they’re big shoes to fill.

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“Wales have a pretty good record at home. They have a proud record at home and they take pride in that Principality Stadium of being really tough to beat.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt is hoping for a favour from the Welsh. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“We’ve gone there with good teams and not managed to do it because, for every inch, you‘ve got to fight so hard. They’ll endeavour to do exactly that. I think it’s going to be a really interesting battle.

“I don’t think Wales will give England the entry points in the air that we gave them. Maybe that’s us being a little too disciplined especially when you see it’s something that’s not really being sanctioned.

Schmidt insists he will have his hands full with preparing Ireland for their clash with Italy in Rome tomorrow, but he might send Gatland a quick text if the Welsh can do his team a favour.

Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy and discuss the week’s biggest stories in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Murray Kinsella

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