New Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that playing Ireland first in the Six Nations is 'fantastic'

New Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that playing Ireland first in the Six Nations is 'fantastic'

NEW WALES RUGBY COACH Warren Gatland believes that the challenge of facing the best rugby side in the world in Ireland next year is 'fantastic'. 

Gatland returned to the role this week for the second time after replacing Wayne Pivac. 

He first took up the Wales job in 2007 and held it up until 2019

While he was Wales boss he served two terms with British and Irish Lions in different roles. 

He left his role to join the New Zealand professional rugby union team the Chiefs in 2020. 

His first spells as head coach of Wales came with four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, and the semi-finals of the 2011 and 2019 Rugby World Cups. 

These days Wales have failed to emulate those grand heights. Under Pivac Wales have succumbed to two fifth-place finishes in the Six Nations. 

Losses to Italy and Georgia made matters worse for the 60-year-old New Zealander. 

Gatland who returned to the Wales setup this week has admitted his eyes are set on the first game against Ireland, who are ranked no 1 in the world. 

"The Six Nations is when points are at stake, and that kind of replicates in some way the World Cup, where the aim initially is to get out of your pool, he told the media on Tuesday

"For us, it is about hopefully hitting the ground running and just making sure we have a Six Nations campaign where, first of all, we are competitive. 

"Having Ireland first up is going to be a challenge against the number one team in the world but having them first up is fantastic. 

"The first thing is to see those players wearing that jersey with incredible pride and giving a performance that reflects the hard work they’ve put in. 

"If we do that, we have got a chance of having a good Six Nations and then we can build on that towards France and the World Cup." 

Ireland travel to Wales for their opening game on the 4th of February. They then welcome to France the week after. 

Ireland's third game will be in Rome in Italy on the 25th.  

Ireland will start March away to Scotland and will close out the campaign with a game against the English in the Aviva. 

2023 Guinness Six Nations fixtures

February 4 – Wales v Ireland (2.15pm), England v Scotland (4.45pm)
February 5 – Italy v France (3pm)

February 11 – Ireland v France (2.15pm), Scotland v Wales (4.45pm)
February 12 – England v Italy (3pm)

February 25 – Italy v Ireland (2.15pm), Wales v England (4.45pm)
February 26 – France v Scotland (3pm)

March 11 – Italy v Wales (2.15pm), England v France (4.45pm)
March 12 – Scotland v Ireland (3pm)

March 18 – Scotland v Italy (12.30pm), France v Wales (2.45pm),
Ireland v England (5pm).