Shane Byrne reckons Lions places factored into Welsh performance

He spoke to Jonathan Healy on Sunday morning

Wales, George North, RBS Six Nations

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

Shane Byrne thinks that places in this year's Lions squad would have been part of the reason for Wales performance in Cardiff on Friday night.

Ireland were beaten by Rob Howley's side to end their dreams of a Six Nations crown and the Welsh held Ireland to just nine points.

George North crossed twice and Jamie Roberts once at the Principality Stadium and Byrne says that a big performance in front of Lions head coach Warren Gatland would have been part of the reason behind their win.

"The Welsh side just seemed hungrier on the day," Byrne told Jonathan Healy on today's Sunday Show. "All the things that we were meant to be strong on didn't happen.

"The decision making, the senior players didn't stand up. The game started brilliantly which was a worry that we had, that we were going to start slow. We didn't and we started from the kick-off. All looked well.

"Wales were matching us, and slowly but surely the Welsh started to get on top of the game. The back-row weren't having the effect we wanted them to have.

"You have to remember, the Welsh were fighting with their backs against the wall. It wasn't just for the pride of the Six Nations, it was also World Cup positioning and one thing that they think a lot about is the Lions selection. They would have seen that a lot of their direct opponents were in a green jersey in front of them."

George North ran in two tries as Wales beat Ireland 22-9 in Cardiff on Friday night, ending Ireland's hopes of a Six Nations title. Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland did have a chance to get back into the game at 15-9, but were unable to convert on extreme pressure on the Welsh line. Robbie Henshaw was at fault as Ireland crossed, but were penalised after he joined the maul from an illegal position. 

Byrne says that was one of the turning points in the game. 

"We would have won. I honestly didn't think Wales would have had the ability to come back after them being in such a purple patch. That was the bit that was lacking.

"You need a side that have true belief in themselves and Wales haven't been playing that well. Once they got their tails up and the crowd behind them, they just went from strength to strength.

"Little things like with Henshaw, it's a cruel thing. The call was correct by Stuart Barnes."