Ireland rugby legend Mick Galwey believes that while Eddie Jones’ England and Warren Gatland’s Wales may be brandished with the favourites tag, Joe Schmidt’s side has what it takes to win a third 6 Nations in a row.
Ireland come into Sunday’s clash with Wales on the back of a horrendous World Cup elimination at the hands of Argentina. Lacklustre Provincial performances in the Champions Cup have also cast a doubt over expectations, but Galwey believes the Kiwi has the men at his disposal to lift a third 6 Nations Championship.
“England apparently are slight favourites at the moment to win, but you can never write off Wales. I think they think we are currently down and Warren Gatland would love to pull one over on us. From an Irish point of view, we need to win our home games firstly.
“Going to England will be tough, but going to France, we’ve won there the last two times. The last two times we won the Six Nations on points difference and it could come close to that again. But I think this team has what it takes.”
Uncapped talents like Stuart McCloskey, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane are in the squad. With the withdrawal of Luke Fitzgerald there has also been speculation that Leinster’s young star Garry Ringrose could also be brought in.
They have proved their talents at Provincial level and the former Munster lock and All-Ireland Champion kerryman feels Joe Schmidt has key decision to make to pick on form or international experience.
“With the current form of some of the new players, such as Stander’s recent in-form performances with Munster and McCloskey with Ulster, I think Joe Schmidt will have some tough decisions to make; choosing between on-form players and those who may not currently be playing well but have the experience internationally.”
Having captained Munster to two Heineken Cup defeats in 1999/2000 and in 2001/2002, Galwey has seen some tough times with the Province. The January defeat away to Stade Francais, where former team-mate Alan Quinlan stated their performance was “embarrassing, disgraceful, humiliating” was definitely a low point, but he believes they will bounce back. With the recent re-signings of Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo, Galwey believes they can breathe a sigh of relief.
“The players knew they didn’t play well. Sometimes it looked like they threw in the towel, players sometimes fell off tackles… But Munster will learn from their mistakes, just like we did back in ‘96 when we were defeated by Toulouse 60 – 19. You can be sure that every 60 of those points hurt and lessons were learned.”
“Keith Earls is the ultimate homegrown hero. He grew up a stone’s throw away from Thomond Park and is one of Munster’s finest. Retaining a player like that is a confidence booster for Anthony Foley, team members and fans.”
*Mick Galwey was speaking at a Boast Q&A and will be giving his insights into the 6 Nations through the boast free app.