Joe Schmidt has picked his favourite to claim the RBS Six Nations title this Saturday, and it's not who you might think. It's not his own team Ireland, and it's not the championship leaders England either.
No, Joe Schmidt actually thinks that Wales are favourites for the Six Nations title. Going into the final weekend with three teams in with an almost equal chance of winning the ultimate prize, Ireland will have to rely on results in Rome and London to ensure that they can successfully defend their Six Nations crown.
When asked who the favourites for the title are going into the weekend, Schmidt thinks that Wales are in pole position.
I think Wales will fancy their chances. Inevitably in the last couple of Six Nations, Italy have tended to fade in those last two games.
Drawing on the schedule last year when Wales only narrowly beat Italy in the early rounds in 2014, compared to the two big wins for Ireland and England in the final two rounds. Schmidt did look at the return of Martin Castrogiovanni as a reason why Italy why play well, and appeared to heap most of the pressure on the Welsh. Schmidt did not make any comment about England, but was wary of letting the result in the Welsh game effect preparation.
We'll get a bit of a look of what the result will be in that game, but it can't effect our preparation.
Sportsfile Brendan Moran /Sportsfile