Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has come out in defence of his head coach Warren Gatland after Neil Francis' column today in the Irish Indepedent.
Never one to mince his words, Francis used today's column to question Gatland's gameplan claiming that Ireland were there for the taking if Wales didn't play the "one-dimensional Warrenball". The comments that are coming under fire involve Francis comparing Gatland's intellect to that of 'a tub of flora', and accusing him of nepotism after the Lions test that saw Gatland select a predominantly Welsh side.
The Welsh seemed put out by Francis' suggestion that Gatland would be a central figure in this weekend's game after his history of mind games in the build up to Ireland games coming back from when he was "unceremoniously dumped" as Ireland head coach in 2001.
Rob Howley took exception to the personal nature of the comments from Francis:
We don’t need comments on that which I regard as a personal attack and totally unfair.
When Howley was asked if he was upset that Gatland's controversial Lions test side is still being talked about by Francis he responded with:
You have to experience the Lions to understand the Lions. I am not too sure if Neil Francis was a Lion.
Turning to the game this weekend, Howley says that the Ireland team selected is as expected. He praises the side "brimming with quality, talent and experience" and singles out Johnny Sexton as a "tough character" having worked with him on that Lions tour.
Howley also confirmed that the roof will be open, and claimed that it was the first time that Gatland has wanted the roof to be open.