Gatland begins war of words

Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from the Six Nations.

Warren Gatland has stoked the fires ahead of this weekend’s Six Nations title decider by claiming his Welsh players dislike the Irish the most.

Gatland, who was in charge of Ireland between 1998 and 2001, has made eight changes to the side who scraped past Italy for the match at the Millennium Stadium.

He insists his charges are desperate to deny Ireland a first Grand Slam since 1948, stating ‘out of all the teams in the Six Nations, the Welsh players dislike the Irish the most’

‘The players’ experiences against Ireland haven’t always been the greatest, so they are very motivated to play against them,’ said Gatland.

Gatland has recalled flyhalf Stephen Jones, centre Tom Shanklin, front-rowers Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, lock Ian Gough, flanker Martyn Williams and captain Ryan Jones as Wales bid to defend last year’s championship win.

To do so they must win by 13 points, but Gatland is focusing first and foremost on inflicting Ireland’s first defeat of the campaign.

‘It’s about winning the game first, win the Triple Crown, deny them the Grand Slam and then see what position we are in.’

Gatland though, looked to turn up the heat on the Irish, questioning their ability to perform under pressure.

‘There is a lot of pressure and expectation on the Irish team to come to our back-yard and perform,’ he added.

‘It’s how they handle that pressure. There has been expectation on them over a number of years, and in a couple of World Cups as well. At international level, when there has been that expectation either to perform in Six Nations or World Cups, they’ve sometimes faltered a little bit.

‘It will be interesting to see how Declan [Kidney] handles that, and how the players handle that this week.’

Poms stick with winning formula

Martin Johnson has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday’s final Six Nations game against Scotland.

Flyhalf Toby Flood and flanker Joe Worsely have been cleared despite injuries sustained in the 34-10 win over France.

England - D Armitage (London Irish); U Monye (Harlequins), M Tindall (Gloucester), R Flutey (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester), H Ellis (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), S Borthwick (Saracens, c), S Shaw (Wasps), T Croft (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins).
Subs: D Hartley (Northampton), J White (Leicester), J Haskell (Wasps), N Kennedy (London Irish), D Care (Harlequins), A Goode (Brive), M Tait (Sale Sharks).