sport news Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins rubbishes suggestions that Warren ... trends now

sport news Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins rubbishes suggestions that Warren ... trends now
sport news Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins rubbishes suggestions that Warren ... trends now

sport news Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins rubbishes suggestions that Warren ... trends now

When Ireland host Wales at the Aviva Stadium, it will be a clash between two sides who couldn’t be at more different stages both on and off the field.

Andy Farrell’s Ireland might not have made it past last year’s World Cup quarter-finals, but they have won 17 straight home matches and are on course for back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slam titles. 

Wales, by contrast, have problems on and off the field. While Irish rugby sails calmly along on untroubled waters, Wales head coach Warren Gatland admitted this week the current state of the country’s national game is like ‘plugging up the holes in a sinking ship’.

Gatland also cast doubt on whether Welsh rugby would go through what he sees as a required ‘proper reset’ at regional level.

In the boardroom, the Welsh Rugby Union continues to deal with the fall-out of last year’s sexism and misogyny scandal. On the sporting front, Gatland is starting afresh with a young team.

Warren Gatland's side come into the showdown off the back of two defeats in their opening Six Nations games

Warren Gatland's side come into the showdown off the back of two defeats in their opening Six Nations games

Ireland extended their home winning streak to 17 games with a 36-0 thrashing of Italy earlier this month

Ireland extended their home winning streak to 17 games with a 36-0 thrashing of Italy earlier this month

Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins dismissed any suggestion that Wales are scared of the task ahead

Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins dismissed any suggestion that Wales are scared of the task ahead

He has had no other choice. After defeats by Scotland and England by a combined total of just three points, Ireland is the toughest challenge yet for Wales’ rookie class of 2024.

‘I don’t know about daunting. It’s a good test but daunting makes it sounds like we’re scared. We’re not. We’re excited,’ said Wales and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins.

'Realistically, we’ve got nothing to lose.’ Wales might not be scared and are embracing the ultimate challenge but it would still be a huge, huge shock if the result was anything other than a home win.

Still, Gatland is positive about what his young guns can achieve. Wales will look to bloody Ireland’s nose by going for broke. They will not die wondering. Gatland’s class of 2024 are looking to play in a different way to the sides which brought Wales so much success in the New Zealander’s first stint.

‘I'm really frustrated with Nick,’ Gatland joked in his press conference before the England game. ‘We can't play “Warrenball” at the moment – whatever that is! I'm still trying to work out what “Warrenball” is. 

'We'll have to find other ways to get across the gainline. We need to adapt and play differently. We need to play with the players we've got and create attacking opportunities.'

Over the years, many have described Gatland’s style of play as ‘Warrenball’ – the insinuation being that his tactics rely almost solely on using big powerful ball carriers to gain forward momentum. The decorated head coach has always disliked the term which was first used by Brian Smith who worked as an assistant to Martin Johnson with England.

Gatland is, understandably and correctly, not a fan of its insinuation his tactics are one dimensional. However, there can be no doubt that his Wales sides of yesteryear relied on brute force in playing a significant part in their success. 

From 2010 onwards, Gatland’s Welsh backline was a land of the giants with the likes of Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies and George North to the fore. The result was a golden, trophy-laden period. Now, as Gatland begins a Wales rebuild with a Six Nations squad with an average age of just 25, the power is not there. 

Gatland begins a Wales rebuild with a Six Nations squad with an average age of just 25, the power is not there

Gatland begins a Wales rebuild with a Six Nations squad with an average age of just 25, the power is not there

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