Rory Best has dismissed Eddie Jones’ latest Wales jibes as “irrelevant” ahead of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations decider in Cardiff.
Jones claimed Wales looked tired ahead of their tilt at a first Grand Slam since 2012, before Welsh boss Warren Gatland questioned why the England coach was offering his opinions on events in Cardiff.
Gatland suggested Jones’ barbs might even backfire and boost Wales, with his players relishing soaking up criticism to fuel their fire.
Captain Best insisted Ireland think Wales look like a team that almost does not know how to lose, while shrugging off England coach Jones’ verbal volley.
“I think there’s a lot of things that go on and the coaches have their own ways of doing it, those comments come left, right and centre,” said Best.
“But for us we’ve looked at Wales, and they look a really confident bunch.
“We know them really well, a lot of our boys have been on Lions tours with them, we play against them very regularly in the league. So we know how good they are.
“We don’t think they look tired, they look like a group of players who are really rich in form and very confident.
“And when you get that you feel you can win any match.
“And you could see that against Scotland, the way they finished the game strongly doesn’t suggest to me that they were tired. It suggests to me that never once in that game did they feel they were going to lose it.
“And that is a really rare trait to get, it takes a lot of good performances and a lot of time together and that’s where they are.
“So for us we know that’s what we have to contend with.
“It’s largely irrelevant to us what Eddie thinks about Wales, it’s about what we think and how we prepare.”
Best confirmed Ireland have requested the roof be left open for Saturday’s tournament denouement, with Six Nations rules meaning their wishes are followed through.
The Irish trained under an open roof, whereas Wales had the stadium closed for their captain’s run session on Friday.
Ireland boss Schmidt had criticised Wales for jumping the gun in protocol and asking the Six Nations to shut the roof due to concerns about poor weather.
The visiting team has the final word on the roof’s status, though both teams must agree for it to be closed.
Schmidt criticised Wales for over-watering the pitch two years ago, negating the impact of a closed roof in Ireland’s 22-9 defeat.
Ulster hooker Best insisted Ireland simply wanted to play the game in the winter sport manner to which it was intended, neatly sidestepping the wider issues around that call.
“In the end we made the decision on playing a game of rugby in the outdoors,” said Best.
“There was a lot made of it, and more outside of our camp, but we felt that was the best decision to be made.
“And whether indoors or outdoors, it’s the same for both teams.”
Evergreen 36-year-old hooker Best will play his final Six Nations game on Saturday, as he will retire after the autumn’s World Cup.
The Ulster stalwart said the only place he would rather turn out in this tournament for the last time would have been Dublin.
“One part of me will really miss occasions like this, but another will be a bit relieved when it’s all over, that I can enjoy the day,” said Best.
“Tomorrow, trying to force a pre-match meal down your neck, you’re really nervous and you’d really rather be anywhere else than that room in that moment.
“And my mum and dad haven’t enjoyed and Ireland game since 2005 with nerves.
“But it’s an incredible tournament that’s been incredibly good to me. Barring the Aviva Stadium there’s no other place I’d rather play my final Six Nations game.
“Thinking about not having little moments are what will make you emotional.”
- Press Association