Sam Warburton: 'Ireland's physicality seperates them from other Six Nations sides'

Sam Warburton: 'Ireland's physicality seperates them from other Six Nations sides'

Former Wales captain and current pundit Sam Warburton has claimed that Ireland has hit a new level in this year's Six Nations because of their increased physical output.

Ireland has beaten France in Marseille and Italy in Dublin in swashbuckling fashion and is expected to carry on this good form with more wins against Wales, Scotland, and England in the coming hours and weeks.

"How good have they been in this Six Nations so far? Truly outstanding," said Warburton in his Times column.

"And the next question I would ask is not whether anyone can cope with them in this tournament, but whether anyone can cope with them for the next few years...

"There is something noticeably different about Ireland now, compared even with the World Cup last autumn. I have watched their two matches, and one thought has consumed me throughout: they look so much more powerful than before."

There was a time when Ireland and the Irish provincial sides would be overpowered by the likes of La Rochelle, South Africa, England, and France, and there was merit in that.

DUBLIN, IRELAND, FEBRUARY 11: Martin Page-Relo of Italy is tackled by Caelan Doris of Ireland during the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium on February 11, 2024, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) )

For example, when Ireland made their way to Marseille at the start of the month, the strength and power of the French front pack were something that became a talking point for Ireland in the Six Nations. This wasn't the case. Warburton believes the likes of Leinster star Joe McCarthy have made them even better.

"In the past, it has been a criticism thrown at them, and indeed, Leinster, that they could be overpowered, but not now," added Warburton.

"Everyone has upped their level of physicality, with the lock Joe McCarthy a brilliant addition, but the likes of Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Beirne, and Dan Sheehan have noticeably increased their effectiveness in contact...

"This is taking them to another level, one which I don’t think any team in the Six Nations can cope with."

Ireland welcomes Wales to the Aviva Stadium at 2:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on RTÉ.