Rob Howley: Injuries can motivate Ireland against Wales

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport
Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien
British and Irish Lions Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien are both missing for Ireland against Wales
Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Date: Sunday, 7 February Venue: Aviva Stadium Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Rob Howley believes Ireland's injury crisis could motivate them for Sunday's Six Nations opener against Wales in Dublin.

Coach Joe Schmidt is without eight front-line players as his team start their defence of the title.

And attack coach Howley believes the way Wales coped with injuries in the World Cup shows what can be done.

"The players were able to adapt and apply themselves. I've got no doubt Ireland will be the same," he said.

"It gives you a stronger belief in yourself to go out and prove other people wrong."

Cian Healy, Marty Moore, Ian Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald are all long-term absentees for Ireland, while full-back Rob Kearney and back-row Sean O'Brien were left out of the team after picking up injuries in training this week..

Rob Howley
Rob Howley represented Wales 59 times at international level

Wales reached the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup in spite of injuries which eventually ruled out seven backs including Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb.

But Howley is not expecting the challenge to be any easier because of the injuries.

Coping with the weather

The former British and Irish Lions scrum-half added that the forecasted tough weather conditions as much as the injuries will dictate how the game is played.

With gales and rain predicted, Howley expects a lot of kicking and catching.

"I think that will have a huge impact on Sunday," he said.

"It's going to be blustery, high winds, and rain. So we have to adapt.

"We've spoken about what we can influence and what we can control. It's about dictating the speed of the game and dictating who controls the game in the areas we need to.

"We're going to have to be accurate because I'm certain there's going to be a fair number of kicks on Sunday afternoon."

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