Wales lock Adam Beard has described Tadhg Furlong’s absence from the Ireland team as a “huge blow” for Andy Farrell’s side ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations game at the Principality Stadium.
Furlong has been ruled out due to a calf injury with Finlay Bealham starting at tighthead prop.
“Tadhg is obviously a quality player, probably renowned as one of the best tightheads in the world, if not the best. I should imagine he’s going to be a huge blow for them but they’ve got quality guys coming through as well,” Beard said today at the Wales team base at the Vale Resort.
“We know whoever plays for them, it’s going to be a tough game on the weekend. We’re not really too worried that he’s missing. We know still it’s going to be a tough game.”
Wales have had to make a late change of their own - full-back Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out after he suffered a back spasm on Thursday morning.
He’s replaced by Liam Williams who comes straight into the team after he was originally left out of the matchday squad named by Warren Gatland on Tuesday.
Beard says they know where they’re going to target Ireland – who haven’t won a Six Nations game in Cardiff since 2013 – on Saturday.
“Make no bones about it, we’re going to push them set-piece time. We’re going to go for them set-piece time and that’s something that we’re looking forward to, that confrontational battle on the weekend,” he said.
“Obviously, they’re a world class side, Ireland. You don’t become number one by chance. They’ve put in a lot of good performances within the last 12 to 24 months, within the last two years, which is fully deserved. Yeah, quality side and we just got to get stuck into them early days.
“We know it’s going to be a physical battle and they run a lot through their nine and 10 who are key generals for them. We got to stand up physically, we got to meet them on the gain-line, get them going backwards,” Beard added.
“Nine (Jamison Gibson-Park and 10 (Johnny Sexton) are their generals so we can’t give them an easy day, an easy ride, when it comes to Saturday.”
Wales also confirmed that the roof of the Principality Stadium will be closed on Saturday.
In 2019, the last time Ireland played in front of a packed crowd at the Welsh ground, it was Ireland’s request that the roof remain open. Wales won a Grand Slam that day in a 25-7 win over Ireland in what was Warren Gatland’s last Six Nations game in charge in his first reign as Wales boss.
“We’re not fussed whether it's open or whether it's shut, whatever the conditions were,” Beard says.
“We know if the roof was open and it was wet we can play in those conditions. The roof is shut then it's going to be dry and stuff, so we know we can play in those conditions.
“We just know how we’re going to play the game at the weekend and what we need to do to beat Ireland.”