Ireland must enjoy the top spot in world rugby, says Beirne

Jan 31 (Reuters) – Ireland must learn to embrace the expectation and trial that comes with being the top-ranked rugby team in the world, veteran striker Tadhg Beirne said on Tuesday.

Ireland will lead this year’s Six Nations Championship and top the rugby world rankings but have a difficult opener against Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

“We’re number one in the world, so no matter who we’re playing we have a goal on our backs,” Beirne said at a press conference at the team’s training camp in Portugal on Tuesday.

“If we were to play the number one team it would be the same… It’s quite exciting in my opinion and I’m looking forward to the challenge when I’m on the pitch to hopefully do our best to keep that pitch one at.

“We are here to win. That’s what we want to do,” added Lock, 31, who also played for the British & Irish Lions.

However, he warned his team-mates not to expect an intimidating cauldron of 80,000 spectators in Cardiff on Saturday.

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“We talked this week about how great an opportunity it can be not to be shocked by the noise, by the intensity they can bring from home. It is up to us to deal with this pressure.

“In the past, the last couple of times I’ve played there, it was my first cap there and unfortunately it didn’t go too well, they ended up winning a Grand Slam in the last game of the season.

“It was my first experience with it and I won’t lie, it really shocked me in terms of the noise level, just the intensity of the game.

“So I think it’s important for us to make everyone who hasn’t played there aware of how intense this game is going to be and how good Wales can be at home.

“If we can go in ready and prepared for that, then I think we’re going to be in a very good place.”

Despite their top placing, Ireland did not win the Six Nations last year and finished second to France.

“Obviously I want to win this championship, I’ve never won it before,” added Beirne. “That’s the mindset of all players. And I think it’s pretty clear that that’s the mindset of the coaches too, that they want to win the championship.”

writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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