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Wales Must Make Ireland Sweat Every Minute, Says Rob Howley

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By David Williams

Rob Howley admits Wales must make life awkward for Ireland this weekend, otherwise the Six Nations favourites will find their groove and run riot.

The Wales assistant coach believes unless his team ruffle Irish feathers from the opening whistle then any prospect of a shock away victory in Dublin is remote.

Head coach Warren Gatland named just one change to the side pipped at Twickenham for this weekend’s trip to the Irish capital where Wales will be seeking a first Championship win since 2012.

Contrast that to Ireland’s recent record that has delivered 38 wins in their last 40 home Test matches. They have also won six of their last seven games against Wales and won the last three by margins of 20+ points.

No wonder, then, that Howley wants his players to create a chaotic environment at the Aviva Stadium to try to knock Peter O’Mahoney’s side out of their stride as they eye back-to-back grand Slams.

“Going out to Dublin to play Ireland at the Aviva is a game to be relished for elite performers,” said Howley.

“The challenge for us is to make them as uncomfortable as we can for every minute that we can. We need to ask different questions of them.

“They’ve a very well organised, so we need to be comfortable in a chaos game and challenge them – we need to create chaos.

“Our discipline is going to be huge, and we have to create pressure on both sides of the ball for each of those 80 one-minute battles. If we can do that, it’s 23 against 23 at the end of the day.”

Sam Costelow has been restored to the Wales No10 jersey in place of his Scarlets teammate Ioan Lloyd, who returns to the bench.

The uncapped Mackenzie Martin is brought on to the replacements bench along with Harlequins prop Dillon Lewis in the only other changes to the matchday 23 from the 16-14 defeat to England.

Wales have lost nine of their last 10 Six Nations games, including their last three.

Wales have not won a Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin since 2012, while Ireland are chasing back-to-back Grand Slams — a feat never previously achieved in the Six Nations.

Andy Farrell’s men are in pole position following emphatic bonus-point victories over France and Italy and will equal England’s record of 11 successive Six Nations wins if they topple Wales.

Howley added: “There might only be two or three opportunities, and we have to be clinical and ruthless.

“They [Ireland] have come out of the World Cup probably with a slight disappointment, knowing Andy Farrell and how he drives their coaching team.

“It’s a great opportunity to go to Dublin and face a formidable side. It is something we are looking forward to, and we will look to challenge them at every opportunity.”

Wales lost their opening two tournament matches against Scotland and England by a combined total of just three points.

“There’s a disappointment with the last couple of games,” said Howley.

“We feel that opportunities which were presented in games, we’ve hurt ourselves and haven’t taken advantage. It doesn’t feel like we’ve lost two, but we have.

“I think the challenge is to put the second half of Scotland with the first half of England together and we might win a game.”

Wales: C Winnett (Cardiff); J Adams (Cardiff), G North (Ospreys), N Tompkins (Saracens), R Dyer (Dragons); S Costelow (Scarlets), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), E Dee (Dragons), K Assiratti (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs, captain), A Beard (Ospreys), A Mann (Cardiff), T Reffell (Leicester), A Wainwright (Dragons)

Reps: R Elias (Scarlets), C Domachowski (Cardiff), D Lewis (Harlequins), W Rowlands (Racing 92), M Martin (Cardiff), K Hardy (Scarlets), I Lloyd (Scarlets), M Grady (Cardiff).

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