Rory Best has demanded an 80-minute performance from Ireland as they bid to stop Wales winning the Grand Slam in Cardiff today after the Irish camp insisted on keeping the Principality Stadium roof open for the Guinness Six Nations final-round game.
As Ireland exercised their right to oppose the home team’s wishes to cover the stadium and expose the field to the elements, with rain and gusts of wind forecast for after the 2:45pm kick-off, Best not only spoke of the weather challenges to which his side will need to adapt to but the level of performance required to beat a side on a 13-Test winning streak.
“It’s certainly going to take the best performance of this Six Nations and arguably it’s going to take one of best performances that this group has put together post-2015 World Cup,” Best said yesterday.
“This group has produced some big performances but it’s going to be an incredibly tough place to come. I think we’re building nicely but we’re under no illusions what sort of performance it’s going to take.”
The Ireland captain is also certain that the level his squad is capable of reaching is good enough to beat anyone in the world, as they proved throughout 2018.
“We think it is. If you ask any of the top teams in the world they will say it is. But we feel that we’ve shown it whenever we play to the best of our abilities. And the exciting thing is there is more to come. And we have to show more.
“This has to be better than we’ve produced. But it’s definitely in there. I think the top teams in the world are that (the best) because it is their inherent belief that when they play to the best of their ability they win. And I think you saw a bit of that with the way we played against France (last Sunday) at the start of the game.
“But in that Wales-Scotland game, in that second half, even though Scotland were in the ascendancy, Wales always looked like a team who thought they were going to win.
“That is something that you get with wins, with confidence, with being together. Certainly with the firepower we have, when we play to the best of our ability, we feel we are a handful for any team in the world.”
Clearly, Ireland believe their cause will be helped by playing under the natural elements, something Wales were keen to avoid by requesting the stadium roof be closed today.
Six Nations rules dictate both sides must agree unless extreme weather, as yet unspecified by the tournament, is forecast and a postponement can be avoided.
Talking after his captain’s run training session at the Principality Stadium yesterday, when the roof was opened following the Welsh session earlier in the day, Best said: “We made a decision on playing a game of rugby in the outdoors. A lot has been made of it outside our camp. It was the decision we made and we just left it at that so we can focus on preparing for a match.
“We were just out there now and because it is such a big stadium the wind swirls a bit. It will be what it will be.”