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Gareth Thomas Suggests Ireland Are The Best Team In The World After Wales Mauling

Gareth Thomas Suggests Ireland Are The Best Team In The World After Wales Mauling
By Eoin Harrington Updated

Ireland couldn't have hoped for a better opening to the Six Nations against Wales. Four tries, a tight-knit defensive performance, and a 22-point bonus point win leave Andy Farrell's team in a brilliant position for the championship ahead.

A lot of the margin of victory for Ireland was down to the dire performance from Wales - but that didn't stop Welsh legend Gareth Thomas piling the praise on the boys in green.

Ireland v Wales: Gareth Thomas heaps praise on Irish performance

Thomas appeared on ITV for the game in Dublin and he likened the characteristics of the Irish performance to the great All Blacks team of the 2010s - suggesting that Ireland were now on the level of the greatest teams in the world.

As a Welshman, you watch this and you're saying, if Wales were playing New Zealand there and Ireland were wearing black jerseys, you'd be saying, 'that's why they're the best team in the world.'

They were that clinical, they were that defence and offence minded that we normally attribute to the best teams in the world. I really feel like Ireland proved all of that today.

It's a big claim from Thomas, and Irish fans may be sceptical. Though the team have been in excellent form in recent months, and claimed another famous win over the All Blacks in November, it is hard to say that we got any idea of their level in Saturday's game, given how poor Wales were.

That being said, Andy Farrell's men are more than worth high praise. They are rightly one of the favourites for the Six Nations and, if their level of performance continues akin to the Welsh game, Thomas' claims may yet gain traction.

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Former Ireland captains Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best were alongside Thomas in the studio. O'Driscoll was similarly impressed with the Irish performance, saying there was little to "pick holes in", while Best said there was one particular element of the performance that will have pleased coach Andy Farrell.

What was really pleasing was how they just took that second half to Wales. They dominated possession. A couple of times, the penalty advantage in that 22 allowed Johnny Sexton and Gibson-Park to throw passes over. But their execution was just exceptional at times.

It's the speed that they do things with - the speed that Johnny Sexton gets back, Bundee Aki gets the ball back, Hansen's coming in, then that pass to Garry. It's just about skill and it's about decision making.

Andy Farrell has said a lot during his tenure that he wants his players to be good decision makers - that was one of the big differences, Ireland made very, very smart decisions every time they were on the ball.

Ireland's massive win over Wales leaves them eagerly looking forward to the remainder of the Six Nations. Their next challenge will be a much sterner test, as they travel to Paris to face favourites France on Saturday at 4:45pm.

SEE ALSO: O'Driscoll And Best Express Johnny Sexton Concerns Ahead Of World Cup

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