Joe Schmidt has named a very strong Irish side to travel to Wales this weekend with the hopes of derailing their pursuit of a Grand Slam.
One particular selection that is drawing a lot of attention is the starting berth for Tadhg Beirne, who replaces Iain Henderson. Beirne is earning his first Six Nations start after some sensational form for Munster this season. While this selection is pleasing many Irish fans, it is causing a lot of concern for Welsh fans on Twitter.
Welsh supporters will know a lot about Beirne’s prowess after his two years with the Scarlets, where he won the Pro14, as well as the Pro14 Players’ Player of the Season award in the 2016/17 campaign. Many Welsh fans are happy that he is getting the start that he deserves, but frustrated it comes against them in such a crucial match.
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Beirne has been one of the form forwards in Europe over the past couple of seasons, and many Irish fans feel he is worthy of a starting place for Ireland on a regular basis, and many are expecting him to prove his worth at the Principality Stadium.
Wales have displayed a remarkable ability to retain the ball for sustained periods of time this season, none more so than their try against England after 35 phases. The addition of Beirne, and his formidable presence at the breakdown, could curtail the Welsh attack and prevent them from keeping hold of the ball. Beirne is one of the most dangerous locks over the ball in Europe, and his partnership with James Ryan is a worrying prospect for Welsh fans.
This is what they are saying:
Legitimately terrified of Tadhg Beirne ? https://t.co/4UjYIAd6cq
— Phillip jewell (@bigfilljewell) March 14, 2019
Sooooo happy for Tadhg Beirne, but at the same time.. shiiiiiiit Tadhg Beirne is starting https://t.co/3oU0DumeFA
— Ffion Thomas (@ffimthomas) March 14, 2019
The extra jackal threat of Beirne could be a real game changer.
We can cycle jackals in defence and carriers in attack. Tough decisions for Wales
— Denis O'Hora (@denisohora) March 14, 2019
— Lloyd Maliphant (@lloydmaliphant) March 14, 2019
We’ll have to be spot on with the line out if Tadhg Beirne is on form on Saturday?
— Jackie Phillips (@JeffPhillips6) March 14, 2019
— Sam Evans (@Samboevans) March 14, 2019
Why did they chose this game though Paul?! ? An absolute quality player.
— Dan Casey (@Dman_Casey) March 14, 2019
But why against us?! This is heartbreaking as a @scarlets_rugby fan!!
— Rachel (@rewilliams85) March 14, 2019
Good for Ireland, But why now? Why against Wales??
— Tomi Carrio (@tomascarrio) March 14, 2019
That's all we needed ?? but we have to wish him well, just not too well ? #onceascarletalwaysascarlet ?
— Anne Davies ????????? (@Annepop01) March 14, 2019
Now I’m scared! Do you think they’ve picked him as he may have a little insight into Wales in some way?
— Matthew Davies (@Matthew1Davies) March 14, 2019
Wales will still be confident going into this game, but many fans will know first hand what Beirne will be able to do to them.
Schmidt is possibly the most analytical coach in world rugby, and every decision he makes seems meticulously thought out. While the addition of Beirne will be a chance to see how he performs before the World Cup, the New Zealander will be acutely aware of what he brings, and so are the Welsh fans.
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