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'They got lucky' - ex-Ireland player predicts Wales in for rude awakening

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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Wales are set to be given a rude awakening when the Guinness Six Nations comes around in just over two months’ time – according to one Irish rugby pundit.

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Bernard Jackman says that he believes that Wales have benefitted from red cards during both the 2021 Six Nations and the recently ended Autumn Nations Cup.

Wayne Pivac’s side reaped the rewards from red cards against both Fiji and Australia, two games that they could have potentially lost if it wasn’t for a one-man advantage for most of both contests. While Wales won two out of four games over the Autumn, Jackman suggests that wins have merely ‘papered over the cracks’ for a side that appears to be in decline.

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Jackman – who previously coached the Dragons in the PRO14 – says the lack of investment in Wales is set to come back to haunt them in the 2022 Six Nations tournament.

“I think they’ve slipped back,” Jackman told The42 rugby podcast. “Eventually, the lack of quality or investment in regional rugby is going to bite them on the a**e.

“Gatland and Pivac have papered over the cracks.

“If you look at the U20s over the last couple of years there hasn’t been a good generation.

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“I wonder if they’ve got the strength in depth. They certainly wouldn’t have anything like (the strength in depth of) England, France or Ireland.

“They got lucky in last year’s Six Nations with a couple of red cards and they capitalised. And they got lucky with a red card against Australia (recently) as well. I thought Australia were the better team with 14 players.

“So I do think Wales will drop off a little bit, to be honest.

“And it’s logical that they do.”

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Jackman does point out that what Wales have achieved is remarkable given the context in which it has happened.

“It’s been amazing what they’ve done, given the amount of investment in the regional game there.”

He also singled out Taine Basham and Ellis Jenkins for praise, with both flankers having stared in the end-of-year campaign. Jackman handed Basham his regional debut when he was in charge at the Dragons in 2017.

“His [Taine Basham’s] footwork is exceptional, as good as any back. He has a boxer’s footwork. We have seen him make people look silly in training. He can beat people for fun. He’s very quick and very elusive, with good offloading skills. His skill-set is pretty unique. Not many back rowers have that.

“He is very much like Justin Tipuric to my mind. He has similar traits.

“He has that bit of magic that makes you go ‘Wow, that is brilliant’.”

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