Ireland must produce 'best performance' to beat Wales
|Six Nations 2019: Wales v Ireland|
|Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Ulster, plus live text commentary on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.|
Skipper Rory Best says Ireland will need one of their finest performances of the Joe Schmidt era to upset Wales in their Six Nations match on Saturday.
Grand Slam-seeking Wales top the table going into the final round but Ireland and England also remain in contention.
The Irish could retain their title with a win in Cardiff and if Scotland can upset England at Twickenham.
“We’ve produced some big performances but it is going to be an incredibly tough place to come,” said Best.
“It’s certainly going to take the best performance of this Six Nations and arguably it will take one of the best performances that this group has put together.
“To win an away game in the Six Nations full stop is tough but to come to a team that is on a massive high, with the run of wins they’re on – four in a row and looking for a Grand Slam – and in this place, which is an incredibly tough place to win anyway, it has all the ingredients and we know that.
“We are building nicely but we’re under no illusions as to what sort of performance it is going to take.”
Ireland’s defence of the title they won last year began in disappointing fashion with a heavy opening-round defeat by England in Dublin and the team ranked second in the world also appeared to be below par during the subsequent wins against Scotland and Italy.
Last week’s bonus-point victory against France signalled a return to form but they must now travel to face a Welsh team that have won their last 13 matches and are just below Ireland in the world rankings.
“We feel that we posted a performance last week that was a lot more reflective of us and the way we are and how we go about playing matches,” Best added.
“I suppose the first three games of the Six Nations there were good bits and bad bits and it was a little bit inconsistent.”
The Ireland hooker, who has signalled that Saturday will be his final Six Nations appearance, added: “For us, tomorrow is to make sure that we can take a step forward, that we can increase our performance and we’re not really as concerned about who people perceive wants to win more or needs to win more.
“We know in our group that we need to perform better and we’re very much focused on doing that.
“We feel that we need to perform somewhere near the best of our ability to get a win but that is what we are going after and if we happen to get beaten tomorrow it will not be because Wales wanted it more but because they played better and that’s the approach that we have.”
Six Nations send off
Best and head coach Schmidt are both preparing for their final Six Nations appearances on Saturday.
Schmidt is set to take a break from coaching after the Rugby World Cup campaign later this year, while Best has indicated that he intends to end his Ireland career after the tournament in Japan.
The veteran forward, 36, made his Six Nations debut in Cardiff and says he cannot think of a more fitting place to bookend his involvement: “I look forward to going out and playing in an incredibly atmosphere tomorrow.
“My first Six Nations cap was against Wales in 2006 and it seems a long, long time ago on one hand on the other it seems to have gone in a flash and barring the Aviva Stadium there’s probably no other stadium that I’d rather play my last Six Nations game in because this space, when it’s full and there’s something on the line as there will be tomorrow, is an incredibly special place to play.”