Stringer calls for an early response

Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer insists Ireland must meet Wales’ early onslaught head-on if they are to make a successful start to their Six Nations campaign.

Ireland’s title hopes remained alive when they last visited the Millennium Stadium on the final day of the 2005 championship.

But they wilted before Wales’ blistering opening and never recovered in a defeat far more convincing than the 32-20 scoreline suggests.

The Welsh completed the Grand Slam and Stringer admits the painful memories of that day will drive his side on.

“We were perhaps caught off guard in 2005. We have got to start the game a lot faster,” he said.

“The pressure they put on us in that game and the occasion meant they were physically up for it.

“We have to match that, flip it over in the first 10-15 minutes and set out a stall and show them we will not be bullied. We have to get stuck into them.

“What happened two years ago is in the back of the guys’ minds. I remember being very disappointed watching Wales lift the trophy two years ago.

“We have a massive challenge trying to contain Wales. It’s always a high-scoring game and we will have to nail them down in the first 20 minutes and get a structure on the game.”

Stringer has experienced mixed fortunes at the Millennium Stadium with the disappointment of Ireland’s defeat in 2005 tempered by his match-winning exploits in last season’s Heineken Cup final.

A magical solo try helped Munster to a 23-19 victory over Biarritz and also landed Stringer the man-of-the-match award.

But the 29-year-old insists his Heineken Cup heroics will be far from his mind on Sunday with Welsh passion in their Cardiff stronghold delivering a sobering reality check.

“We had all our supporters in Cardiff for the Heineken Cup final and they will be outnumbered this time. The crowd will still all be dressed in red – but not for us,” he said.

“It’s the same place but a completely different occasion, different players and a new competition so any memories of last year will fade away quickly.

“Wales are a very good side, especially in the Millennium Stadium, which is one of the best grounds I’ve played in.

“When you play against Wales, with the atmosphere and singing, you really get a buzz.

“You listen to the Welsh anthem and it sends shivers down the back of your neck.

“You are playing in front of passionate supporters, Irish and Welsh, and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

365 Digital

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