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Monday 23 October 2017

Rory will just not stand for finishing second best

Gatland would love to wreck Irish Slam dreams

Ireland hooker Rory Best
Ireland hooker Rory Best
JOE SCHMIDT
rory best

RORY BEST is chasing 'The Big C' for consistency to keep away from 'The Little C' for complacency.

Winning can become an obsession and the more you win the more you want it.

"There is always a danger of complacency when you're going well," he said.

"Everyone talked up the England (tie) as a massive game. But, I think under this coaching set-up and with the players we have, that was quickly put to bed.

"When Joe first came in, the big word that everyone said we needed to be better was 'consistency.'

"When you put a real emphasis on being a more consistent team, you have to put stuff like that (complacency) out of your head."

Ireland are one more win away from breaking the 10-match streak of Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland back in 2003 which would take them to within one more win of their second Grand Slam in six years, their third in history.

HONOURS

If there is one man who has taken more pleasure than most out of wrecking Irish dreams it is Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Ireland have been able to take the honours in the last two Six Nations encounters between the countries.

"Gats will have them well up for it," said Best. "They'll not want to lose again to us and they'll firmly believe that they can go and win this championship.

"I suppose the flip side of that is so do we.

"We have a lot of confidence going forward. We've a lot of belief in our ability.

"But, we know that didn't just come from words. It came from actions, from making sure that Saturday we're ready to go and we've left nothing to chance."

The pressure builds with every round of the Six Nations as the prospect of retaining the Championship grows with every win.

"It was the same two weeks ago for the England game which was going to be the game of the championship, the Grand Slam decider," stated the 32 year-old hooker.

"I think this championship is so tight that there's very little between the teams.

"Obviously we want to keep the momentum going and we talked about that earlier how tough it can be in the atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium,

"That's why it's a tougher game than against England last time out."

You can see where he is coming from. Th comfort of home will be replaced by the hostility of Cardiff.

"England are a quality side and they put it up to us just the way we thought, but, ultimately, we were at home and we had that crowd support.

"We knew if we got a good start the momentum would build whereas with Wales in Cardiff you're always trying to fight against momentum. The crowd are always trying to swing it against you and they're a passionate, knowledgeable crowd. The Welsh will probably see it as a chance to right a few wrongs, if you hear some of the stories coming out of their camp last year.

"But, also, to put themselves in a very strong position to win the championship, with their finishing with Italy they feel they can rack up a few points and win it on points-difference."

Of course, the laser-like eye of Joe Schmidt will notice a hair out of place and captain Paul O'Connell will be as keen to put Wales to the sword on the occasion of his 100th cap as he was on his first against the Welsh in 2002.

"He probably works harder than any other player, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch," he shared.

"I think that shows in the teams he has played on and how he is perceived within those teams and the accolades he has won in those teams.

"He really is a fantastic ambassador for Irish rugby. We are very lucky as a country to have him as our captain."

For all of O'Connell's setbacks, the eagerness for competition and consistency has stayed constant well into his 35th year, his 14th season with Ireland.

"He still expects his body and mind to take him to places that he went to when he was 23, 24 and just starting out with Ireland," added Best.

"I think that's the nature of the man.

"He doesn't expect you to take a backward step because he won't take one.

"In terms of all of that, he hasn't changed an awful lot. He still expects unbelievably high standards."

 

Gats will have them well up for it. They'll not want to lose again to us.

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