Thursday 22 March 2018

Gatland: We'll target Sexton and Murray

Wales boss Warren Gatland
Wales boss Warren Gatland

Wales will attempt to shut down Ireland half-back stars Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray in Saturday’s Six Nations clash. It might be easier said than done, given their continued prolific form for Ireland and the Warren Gatland-coached British and Irish Lions in New Zealand last summer.

But Wales boss Gatland, who this week becomes only the second coach after New Zealand World Cup winner Graham Henry to clock up 100 Tests for one country, knows that keeping them quiet will be key to victory hopes in Dublin.

“We’ve got to attack them,” said Gatland, who has made three changes from the side beaten by England 10 days ago, calling up fit-again full-back Leigh Halfpenny, wing Liam Williams and fly-half Dan Biggar.

“We have had some pretty good success not allowing Johnny too much time and space on the ball. Our line-speed defensively has got to be good.

“We have got to put Conor and his kicking game under pressure.

“We have to be prepared to be pretty physical against them.

“We have got to be physical against them up-front and stop the running power of someone like CJ Stander, and stop allowing Murray and Sexton to dominate the game.

“They are comfortable playing through lots of phases, they’ve got an excellent kicking game, their nine and 10 combination is probably one of the best in world rugby. We’ve got to shut them down.”

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