Joe Schmidt ramps up the pressure on referee ahead of Six Nations opener against Wales

Ireland last encountered this head official in their World Cup defeat to Argentina

Joe Schmidt ramps up the pressure on referee ahead of Six Nations opener against Wales

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has highlighted the officiating problems that could arise while playing Wales ahead of their Six Nations clash tomorrow.

Speaking to the media this week, Schmidt alluded to 'complications' involved in interpreting the Welsh breakdown and scrum which could leave the French referee Jerome Graces, prone to making inaccurate calls.

Ireland's last competitive encounter with Garces took place in their disappointing World Cup exit against Argentina last year and some of the Irish felt aggrieved by some of his decisions.

In one instance, Argentina tight-head Ramiro Herrera charged late into a ruck, which went unpunished as Garces appeared to have ignored one of his assistants. 

In advance of Ireland's Six Nations opener against Wales, Schmidt has issued some words of advice to the French official in an attempt to promote fair-play.

''I don’t think referees can afford to go into any game with preconceived ideas. If you look at our games against England in the last two years there have been great scrum battles, they stay up, they stay square and you get a good contest. And you look through the games in the World Cup and it is exasperating to be honest. It’s one of the things that I’ve no doubt Wales are trying to correct as well.''

Wales defeated Ireland in last year's Six Nations and again, many Irish fans were unhappy with the performance of referee Wayne Barnes.

With Ireland's lengthy injury list, the loss to Wales last year and the prospect of facing into this competition without the incomparable leadership of Paul O'Connell, the pressure to win is palpable. 

And the New Zealander believes, that good discipline could be the key to securing a win over the Welsh. 

''We still maintained a pretty good discipline, our penalty count in the last Six Nations averaged less than 10, the year before was less than eight and there's nothing that we're doing that's different in trying to stay disciplined than there was those two times.

"A lot of them last time against Wales came at the scrum and we were exasperated by that, but that's one of those things. We have to try and manage ourselves and we'll continue to try to manage it."