Liam Williams, Adam Beard and Hadleigh Parkes, who all picked up injuries and cuts in the 18-11 win over Scotland at Murrayfield, have been declared fully fit and the race is now on to deliver the third Grand Slam of the ‘Gatland Era’.
“We felt that it was pretty hard to change a team that is winning in particular if you have a chance for a Grand Slam. You don’t want to miss out on that opportunity, so we have stuck with the same 23,” said Gatland.
“We know what is at stake and the prize is massive. We’ve spoken all week about embracing it and not running away from it.
“You get opportunities that come along in life and you have to take them with both hands. I’ve told this group of players they might never get a chance like this again and they don’t want to let such an opportunity pass them by.
“I’ve not seen a group of players as motivated and excited about playing in a Grand Slam game before. They want to put that jersey on, play for themselves, families and Wales as a whole and to win – they know what it means to the country.
“I know Ireland want to come and spoil the party. We have a chance of finishing first or third, while they will probably be second or third.”
With Storm Gareth still battering Wales, Gatland said he wasn’t concerned about the decision from his Irish counterpart Joe Schmidt on whether or not the roof will be open. After all, the atmosphere created by the Welsh fans for the win over England when the roof was open was fantastic.
“We have not heard definitively but we understand they want it open, which is not a concern for us. My only concern is that if it is pouring down with rain then we do have a responsibility to the game from a spectacle point of view,” added Gatland.
“There may be 9m people watching on TV. I don’t see the point of potentially having to play in terrible weather conditions when you have the opportunity to close the roof.
“That’s a decision that is out of my hands. Both teams have to agree to the roof being closed, so that means basically the away team decides what happens in our stadium.
“I have made a number of comments in the past about that. It’s our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it.
“It is not something we have spoken about all week and we just presume Ireland would be like England and ask for the roof to be open. I thought the atmosphere from the England game was up there with as good as I have ever heard, especially the last 20 minutes.
“The crowd got behind us and they were amazing and if they do that again on Saturday it will be brilliant. There is no doubt when the roof is closed it does create more of an atmosphere in terms of the noise.
“Some teams are able to handle that, others can’t cope with the extra noise and pressure and with what the home crowd can deliver.”