Joe Schmidt believes Ulster’s Chris Henry can help batter Wales into submission in Saturday’s crunch RBS 6 Nations clash in Dublin.
Schmidt has backed Henry and back-row colleagues Jamie Heaslip and Peter O’Mahony to blast craters in Wales’ defence at the Aviva Stadium.
Henry has stepped up to the plate as replacement for the injured Sean O’Brien – who may not play again this season after shoulder surgery.
And Schmidt believes the Ulster star could be a key figure against reigning 6 Nations champions Wales.
“We certainly miss Sean,” Schmidt said.
“But the one thing I would say, I thought Chris Henry, Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip all chipped in and added a little bit of value that covered for Sean last week in the win against Scotland.
“Chris carried well, and Peter, he might not have made too many carries, but he was absolutely superb.”
Meanwhile, Schmidt has backed talisman Brian O’Driscoll to remain focused ahead of the Welsh clash.
The rumbling fallout from Warren Gatland snubbing O’Driscoll on the Lions tour has resurfaced in the build-up to the game.
Schmidt believes the Gatland-O’Driscoll circus is a “non-issue”.
“It’s a non-issue for us to be honest,” the Ireland coach said.
“I think they’ve both known each other for a long time, I know it’s not a distraction for Brian and it certainly hasn’t been evident that it’s been a distraction for anyone else.
“It’s just about trying to get as well prepared as we can be in the windows that we’ve had.”