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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008, 18:46 GMT
O'Sullivan dismisses Gatland duel
Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan
Eddie O'Sullivan and Warren Gatland will go head-to-head

Date: Saturday, 8 March
Kick-off: 1315 GMT
Venue: Croke Park, Dublin
BBC Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Sport website (UK users only), Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan insists his personal duel with Wales chief Warren Gatland will not add extra spice to Saturday's Triple Crown clash.

Gatland was controversially axed as Ireland coach in 2001 and replaced by O'Sullivan, the man he originally appointed as his assistant.

The pair go head-to-head for the first time at Croke Park but O'Sullivan said: "I don't think it adds any extra spice.

"It's a game of rugby between Wales and Ireland, we are just the coaches."

Gatland's Wales revolution has inspired three Six Nations victories from three as the Welsh chase their second Grand Slam in four years.

O'Sullivan is targeting a hat-trick of Triple Crowns but Ireland must beat Gatland's Wales in Dublin on Saturday.

"I haven't seen him in six-and-a-half years and I spoke to him for about 30 seconds during the Six Nations launch, " said O'Sullivan.

"My relationship with Warren is fine.

"It makes great lines for the press but if you ask the players it's about winning the game.

"If we get caught up in anything other than that it would be very foolish.

"We must focus on the job and we both want to win the match because it's a Six Nations game.

"I'm not interested in anything else."


Gatland is also playing down the feud which is dominating the build-up to a pivotal showdown in this year's Six Nations.

After leaving Ireland, the New Zealander went on to win three Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup with Wasps before leading Waikato to the New Zealand provincial championship.

Gatland now travels to Croke Park with his Wales team unbeaten in this year's Six Nations and in pole position to win their 24th championship.

"This weekend is not about me," insists the Wales coach.

"I have been lucky enough to have gone back to Lansdowne Road with Wasps and beaten Munster in the semi-final of the 2005 Heineken Cup.

"That is all out of my system now.

"My ambition at the time was to take Ireland to the 2003 World Cup and then go back to New Zealand.

"But if it had not happened I wouldn't have had the chance to go to Wasps.

"When I left Ireland I had eight job offers in the space of two weeks and one of them was the opportunity to go to Wasps.

"That proved a great decision and I am quite happy with the way my rugby path has gone."

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