Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is ready to lock horns with the strongest Wales side he has faced – but the British & Irish Lion remains undaunted by the prospect.
O’Driscoll – who is a strong candidate for the Lions captaincy in the summer – will line-up against the Welsh for the seventh time on Saturday and there has never been more at stake in one of his appearances against the principality.
Mike Ruddock’s side are gunning for their first Grand Slam in 27 years while Ireland can yet taste RBS 6 Nations glory and Triple Crown success at the Millennium Stadium.
The Irish were touted as pre-tournament favourites but it is Wales who have lit up the championship with some exhilarating play that has swept all before them.
Their attacking style ensures few begrudge their success and O’Driscoll has readily expressed his admiration for a team which tops the try-scoring chart by some margin.
But the Leinster centre and likely British Lions captain for the summer tour to New Zealand insists Wales’ resurgence has not caused too much concern around the Irish camp.
He said: "It looks as though this is the best Welsh side I will have faced. The Welsh nation thrives on confidence.
"Winning becomes a habit and that’s what has happened to them in this competition.
"They have played some magnificent rugby – the first half against Scotland was a pleasure to watch.
"There were some obvious defensive frailties in the Scottish team, but the Welsh were still magnificent. Their linking of backs and forwards was fantastic.
"They have some very skilful players who bring that element of unpredictability to the field. The further they go through the phases the more unstructured they become.
"But you can say that about many teams in world rugby and we’re not overly perplexed by them or what they can throw at us – we’re more interested in what we can throw at them."