A much-criticised Wales team are ready to bounce back against “favourites” Ireland on Friday after their Six Nations capitulation against Scotland, according to coach Robin McBryde.
Fans, pundits and media turned on Wales players and coaches after they leaked 20 unanswered points in their defeat by the Scots, which followed a loss to England after an opening victory over Italy.
But interim head coach Rob Howley refused to bow to pressure for wholesale changes and picked an unchanged team to play the Irish, victory for whom would set up a Six Nations title decider against England in Dublin on March 18.
“We hope they feel a bit galvanised by the fact they get to go again and step up their performance,” McBryde said Thursday.
“Because there’re no changes, there’re no excuses. We’ve shown faith in them as coaches, we feel there’s a lot more to come from that group of players, they’re deserving of that opportunity and this is their shot at it.
“For myself, personally, there is still a level of hurt there from the Scottish defeat, and I am sure the players are feeling that as well, so we need to react in a positive manner against what will be a very confident Ireland team.
McBryde, who played hooker for Wales alongside Howley and assistant coach Neil Jenkins, added: “We’re in a goldfish bowl in Wales and you’re aware of it. If the national team doesn’t succeed you’re going to get a fair bit of flak and that’s life, nothing changes.
– Roll up your sleeves –
“Rob Howley, Neil Jenkins and myself, anybody involved in Welsh rugby in the 1990s, we know what it’s like. You know there’s no other way through it other than just rolling up your sleeves and going at it again, maybe a little smarter or learning from your mistakes.
“As far as I am concerned, when you are taking part in international rugby as a player, as a coach, you are under constant pressure. Maybe a little bit more so in Wales.
“Perhaps this is a new experience for this squad of players, but they’ve got to come through it, they’ve got to knuckle down.
“Until we do get that victory, obviously that pressure is going to mount considerably. It’s in adversity that you show your true colours. Hopefully we’ll step up to the plate tomorrow night.”
Ireland, McBryde admitted, were “a pretty good outfit. They’ve had a great season, really, beating the All Blacks”.
“They have got aspirations for the title. They have got a big finish against England next week.
“We’ve just got to be at our best in whatever they throw at us, and just have that level of composure when we’ve got the ball, and the accuracy as well.”
McBryde argued that there was more pressure on Ireland as they remain in the hunt for the championship, but he added that Wales needed to perform, with World Rugby ranking points to be garnered before the draw for the 2019 World Cup.
“Undoubtedly they are favourites coming into the game tomorrow night. We’ve got to go at them right from the word go.” – Agence France-Presse