We don't care what Gatland thinks: Irish skipper Best

Pirate IRWIN
Ireland national rugby team's captain Rory Best wants to beat Wales and does not care what opposing coach Warren Gatland thinks

Ireland don't mind if they beat Wales but the Welsh coach Warren Gatland refuses to accept they are the best team in the Six Nations, captain Rory Best said on Friday.

Gatland -- who remains bitter over the manner in which his time as Ireland head coach ended in 2001 when his Irish assistant Eddie O'Sullivan replaced him -- replied bluntly 'No' earlier this week when asked if he thought the Irish had been the most impressive side in the first two rounds of the Six Nations.

Best said he hoped the hosts would beat Gatland's side and take them a step closer to a mouth watering Grand Slam decider with champions England on March 17 at Twickenham.

"He is entitled to his opinion," sad Best at his eve of match press conference.

"He is coming off playing England and England's record over the past two-and-a-half years speaks for itself.

"We hope we can change his mind and if we win and don't succeed in doing so we won't lose sleep about it."

Best, who skippered the midweek side under Gatland on last year's British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, did pour praise on the 54-year-old Welsh head coach on what will be his 100th Test in charge of the Wales team on Saturday.

"No doubt you can see how Wales have evolved under him," said Best.

"He has also adapted his style and it is a fantastic feat (the 100th Test), " said Best who will win his 109th cap on Saturday, passing legend Paul O'Connell as the third most capped Irishman of all time,

"People are very quick to praise players when it happens and for a coach to do that is a brilliant achievement."

Sentimentality and good will for Best, though, has its limits.

"Hopefully he can get a win in his 101st test which would be great," he dryly observed.

"We don't want to give him a win in the 100th.

"What is great about him as a coach, though, is he keeps the players interested when he talks to you and when you succeed in doing that you get good performances and success."

As for his own landmark in passing his predecessor as Ireland captain O'Connell Best said it would be a moment to treasure.

"Whenever you surpass class players it is a special moment," said Best, who has Ronan O'Gara (128) and Brian O'Driscoll (133) ahead of him.

"Some of the players I have passed like Peter Stringer (former Ireland scrum-half), certainly in my latter days at school and early days of playing you look up to them.

"That I have played more times than him (O'Connell) will be one of those milestones you will look back on with pride to go past him is an unbelievable achievement."