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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 09:17 GMT
No talk of Ireland feud - Gatland
Wales coach Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland says Ireland have done well under Eddie O'Sullivan
Wales coach Warren Gatland says he does not want talk of a feud with Ireland rival Eddie O'Sullivan to distract from Wales' bid for the Triple Crown.

O'Sullivan was Gatland's assistant for Ireland before controversially taking over from the New Zealander in 2001.

Wales face Ireland away at Croke Park this Saturday in the RBS Six Nations.

"I think you've got to be careful that you don't get involved in the coaches' personalities and try to build that up too much," Gatland told Scrum V.

"For me personally it's a game we'd love to win but... I've got to make sure I keep things level-headed."

I can hold my head high when I think about what I did for Irish rugby

Wales coach Warren Gatland

Gatland even had some praise for the man who succeeded him, saying: "What you've got to say is that Ireland have done well under Eddie. They've won a couple of Triple Crowns.

"They'll be disappointed with the World Cup, but they look like they've got things back on track and they have one of the most experienced teams in world rugby."

However, the New Zealander is hoping to keep Wales on track for a Grand Slam encounter against France on 15 March by ensuring Wales beat Ireland in Dublin.

Gatland said: "I've got to emphasise the importance of the game and making sure I do the best job I can to try and get the result for Wales.

"It's not about the coaches. It's about the players, really and us having an opportunity to get a Triple Crown.

"I've got to emphasise the importance of the game and making sure I do the best job I can to try and get the result for Wales."

Gatland also acknowledged the irony of finding himself in this position following events in Ireland seven years ago, when his contract was not renewed and O'Sullivan then took over.

He said: "My experiences in Ireland were fantastic. I had a brilliant time there.

"What happened at the end of that was disappointing at that time, but I can hold my head high when I think about what I did for Irish rugby.


"I think I made a difference and having been involved when we won nine of our last 11 games with me in charge and for a couple of individuals to says 'thanks Warren, we appreciate what you've done for Irish rugby' - that was their decision.

"It was disappointing for me but I'm a great believer in what will be, will be and if I'd stayed on with Ireland I wouldn't have had the chance to go to Wasps and enjoy that, and probably would have ended back up in New Zealand a bit sooner.

"I've got to thank the Irish Rugby Union for what ended up happening to me. I've got some great friends there and I love the Irish people in terms of looking forward to the welcome we'll get.

"I'll catch up with a few mates and have a few pints of Guinness - that has to be done too.

"I'm just really looking forward to going back there, because it's going to be a great game and there will be a huge amount of interest in it.

"I think it will be a fantastic match."

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