Ireland success drives 'jealous' Wales' Grand Slam bid
|Six Nations: Wales v Ireland|
|Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.|
Warren Gatland says recent Irish success has produced a jealousy among Wales’ Grand Slam-chasing squad.
Wales want a Six Nations clean sweep by beating Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday, with their opponents and England still capable of taking the 2019 title on that final tournament day.
“They (Ireland) are number two in the world, and their provinces have had a lot of success in the Pro14 and in Europe,” said Gatland.
“Sometimes it can breed a jealousy.”
Ireland are the defending Six Nations champions while their provincial sides have had more recent success than Wales with Leinster winning the Pro14 and European double last season.
Gatland coached Ireland between 1998 and 2001 and Wales have developed a rivalry since the New Zealander took charge of his first game in 2008.
The match will also signal Gatland and Joe Schmidt’s last Six Nations match in charge of Wales and Ireland respectively before the pair step down after the World Cup in Japan later this year.
“The added spice is with the Pro14 in how the players know each other,” said Gatland.
“We respect them hugely for what they have achieved. You respect them, but you are desperate to want to beat them.
“That sometimes creates the edge and a lot of it stems from that.
“They have been incredibly successful. I take my hat off to their provincial rugby and what they have achieved in Europe, the Pro14 and what the national team has done. We have got to strive to do that.
“That creates that competition. It is almost like a derby-type feeling where you want to beat someone.
“Our group of players get incredibly motivated to play against Ireland as they want to beat them.
“A lot of them have been on the losing end on a number of occasions, particularly to their provincial teams.”
Replicating England win
While Ireland have flourished, Wales have themselves risen to third in the world thanks to their record-setting 13-match winning sequence.
Schmidt’s side kept their Six Nations hopes alive with a thumping bonus point win over France a day after Wales held out to beat Scotland at Murrayfield.
Gatland believes Wales need to replicate their powerful performance in the 21-13 win over England to defeat Ireland.
“There is no doubt against England we were mentally right on top of our game, and we need to be like that next weekend,” said Gatland.
“The challenge for Ireland is that they have a team with some older and experienced players; they are often the most dangerous because there is always a big match in an experienced team.
“You don’t always get as much consistency, but when it matters they can turn on that big performance because they have done it before.”
Gatland would become the first Six Nations coach to win three Grand Slams if Wales win in his final game in charge of them.
“If we do that it would be unbelievable,” said Gatland.
“I have loved my time in Wales and never thought I would be here for so long.
“I have had 10 Six Nations and when I look back I am proud of what we have achieved in terms of consistency in the Six Nations.
“We want to finish it off. When someone presents you with an opportunity to win a Grand Slam you want to take it with both hands.”
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