Shane Williams believes atmosphere won’t be a problem for Ireland

Former Welsh international Shane Williams gave his thoughts ahead of tonight’s match

BY Rob Fanning 16:21 Friday 10 March 2017, 16:21 10 Mar 2017

Less than four hours until kick off and the tension is certainly building. Both sides are desperate for a win. Wales will be looking to restore pride and Ireland are still on course to win a third Six Nations championship in the last four years.

Speaking to Newstalk Sport during the week, former British and Irish Lions winger Shane Williams spoke about the intensity of playing on a Friday night in Cardiff, but he feels the atmosphere won’t get the better of a "focused Ireland".

“Personally, I enjoyed playing in the evenings,” he said. “I don’t know what it was, not for any particular reason. I think it’s all about the build up. As soon as you're on the field and the whistle goes and you make that first tackle, you don’t know what day it is - let alone what the time is - as long as the crowd are there.”

“I think what it will do is make a difference in the atmosphere in the crowd. A late kickoff on a Friday night, I’m sure a lot of people will go out and enjoy the day prior to it which may help the atmosphere and the singing, not that it needs helping.”

“There is always a little bit of a different mood in the stand. However, I think the Irish team at the moment are just far too focused to start worrying about it being a Friday match.”

In any good team having a strong coaching staff is very important. Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is regarded as one of the best coaches in world rugby and Williams admits the Irish boss is right up there - “I think Schmidt is a shrewd operator, he knows exactly what he wants from the team and the team know what he wants from them. When it’s not actually going the way they want, they can do something different and change it and I think that is why they are the side that they are at the minute.

Warren Gatland has been Wales head coach for the last 10 years. In that time he was also appointed head coach of The Lions in a series that saw them beat Australia 2-1 in 2013. He has taken a sabbatical from the Welsh team for this years Six Nations as he once again will try to lead The Lions to glory in New Zealand this summer.

Williams believes Gatland will be back to coach Wales after the summer.

“Everybody in Wales hopes he will be back. He is highly respected. He came in 2007 and made a lot of changes and changed the game," he said.

"We won championships (three) and Grand Slams (two) in that time. He’s a test winning coach with the Lions. Obviously he’s got a big couple of months coming up himself now. He has got a big rugby contract as well, which says to me unless something drastic happens in the meantime he will be there again.”

Wales vs. Ireland; kick-off 8.05pm

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