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'We have a huge job on our hands' - Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards on the Ireland RBS 6 Nations game

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 04, 2014

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards.

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IT isn't the case that Wales will be taking sandbags and barbed wire with them to Dublin this weekend, but they are expecting a ferocious examination of their defensive mettle against Ireland.

Joe Schmidt's side managed three tries in 13 minutes against New Zealand last autumn.

Put that in context: Wales have touched down just seven times against the All Blacks over the past ten years.

Ireland also scored three tries against Scotland last weekend. Their back division weaves pretty patterns but they are not afraid to use the driving maul, with Jamie Heaslip registering a try from a forward rumble against Scotland.

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So impressive were the Irish in that area that Scrum V's Phil Steele took to Twitter to suggest: "Mantra for Wales next week: 'Shoulder to shoulder we'll cancel Ireland's maul'."

They will certainly need to do something.

There again, Shaun Edwards is one of the most respected defence coaches in the world, and after the first round of Six Nations games last season, Wales didn't concede a try over the rest of the tournament.

He has told his players to batten down the hatches for Saturday, though.

"We have a huge job on our hands defensively this week against a team who are in form and who recently scored three tries in 40 minutes against the All Blacks," said Edwards.

"They are coached by one of the best attack coaches in the world and they scored three tries against Scotland.

"So we are under no illusions about the size of the task ahead of us.

"They have threats all over the park. You saw from their maul against Scotland that they can attack through their forwards, with Cian Healy rampaging over the advantage line, and everyone knows about their backs. The player I am very impressed with is Conor Murray. He is a guy who plays with his head up, counts numbers and tries to attack where he thinks the opposition are at their weakest.

"He has a good understanding with his number 10, so we need to be on our guard.

"We are under no illusions of what we are about to face, especially in defence, and we will be hugely motivated."

It was good news, then, that Dan Lydiate showed signs of returning to his best form against Italy last weekend. The Azzurri were more dangerous than most had predicted, but Lydiate finished top Welsh tackler with a dozen hits, despite being subbed with 15 minutes to play.

He brought down several Italian forwards with his renowned chop tackling, with their 6ft 8in, 19st 7lb lock Quintin Geldenhuys being felled three times in the second half.

"Dan's tackling was really, really good," said Edwards.

"I had spoken to him about trying to anticipate where the attack is heading and to get into position to do what he does best and do what he does as well as anybody in the world when it comes to stopping opposition go-forward.

"I think he did that really well and he's getting back to his best.

"You have to remember Dan had a horrific leg injury and it takes time to come back to your best from those."

Wales are defending champions and they started their campaign with a win, albeit a lacklustre one against Italy.

They have lost only one of their last 11 Six Nations games but Edwards believes they will head into the Aviva Stadium as underdogs.

"I would say that having come to our ground and beat us last year they are slight favourites," said Edwards.

"They are playing on their home ground, did a professional job on Scotland and their form is very strong.

"Ireland have always been a very skilful, cohesive team. We've had great battles with them over the years, with the victories ebbing and flowing."

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