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:
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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