Gaffney bullish ahead of Wales clash
October 4, 2011
Ireland backs coach Alan Gaffney has called on his squad to use their knock-out rugby nous to overcome Wales © Getty Images
Ireland assistant coach Alan Gaffney has backed his players to draw on their knock out rugby experience in their World Cup quarter-final showdown with Wales.
The Irish enter the last eight for the first time since 2003 but Gaffney insists that the domestic success of the likes of Munster and Leinster leaves the squad well equipped for the much-anticipated clash with Wales.
"Ireland have been very, very good at this (knockout) style of rugby now for some time, initially probably led by Munster," he told RTE Sport. "The knockout competition, which effectively the Heineken Cup becomes, means late in your pool rounds you've got to win games or you don't go through and then obviously there's the quarter-final, semi-final and final."
An in-form Wales side have caught Gaffney's eye over the last few weeks and he was full of praise for the work of their coaching team. "Wales have been very, very good. I think they've improved enormously over the last 12 months," he said. "They weren't in a particularly good place the last few years. They didn't perform during the Six Nations for a number of years in-a-row after winning the Grand Slam.
"They've got some exciting young players. They have a very strong forward pack with Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones and Huw Bennett in the front row. Sam Warburton has obviously been a huge success, being captain of Wales at 21 or 22 is some achievement.
"In the back-line obviously they've got a lot of talent, so whether they play Shane Williams and George North or Williams and Leigh Halfpenny, whether they play Lee Byrne, whether they play James Hook - they've got plenty of options. It's an exciting bunch of players they've got."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown