A Grand Slam, a Triple Crown, a championship title, yet another extension of Wales' unprecedented winning streak — as if Warren Gatland's Six Nations bow at the Principality Stadium would not be fitting enough, then a win over Ireland on Sunday would also give the Kiwi and his many admirers justification to call him the most successful coach in the history of the competition.

Only five others have guided countries to two Grand Slams and, with his farewell hat-trick, Gatland would separate himself from Welsh legend John Dawes, England's Geoff Cooke and the French trio of Jacques Fouroux, Jean-Claude Skrela and Bernard Laporte.

When asked about this potential distinction, Gatland was fully prepared to recognise the significance.

"It would be special for me personally, yes," he said. "It would be my last Grand Slam with Wales, and if we do that, it would be unbelievable. I have loved my time here. I never thought I would be here for so long. I've had 10 Six Nations, and when I look back, I am proud of what we have achieved.


"We have a couple of Grand Slams, another championship as well, and a few seconds, but our win record has been excellent, particularly against the big teams. But we want to finish it off. When someone presents you with an opportunity to win a Grand Slam, you want to take it with both hands. It could be a special night in Cardiff."

Indeed it could, although not everyone would think so. Already there are whispers this would be "the worst Grand Slam ever", a theory so ridiculous in its premise it barely deserves investigation.

Granted, Wales scraped by France, were not convincing against Italy, played in patches, albeit superbly, against England, and were hanging on by the very tips of their fingers on Sunday, as Scotland fought back from a 15-6 halftime deficit to come so close to a famous fightback.

But the naysayers might have missed the common denominators in these were the Wales attack being clinical when they carved out their opportunities and the Wales defence being at the game's pinnacle in denying the opposition.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend stated his conviction that the red wall was cynical, too, in conceding five penalties in their own 22 and he wondered why referee Pascal Gauzere did not pluck out a yellow card or two. Yet that highlights the professionalism of Gatland's men and their ability not only to read a game but also its official.

Ireland should know the effort it will require on St Patrick's weekend.

Wales have yet to score more than 26 points in a match but, armed with a defence Townsend declared "the best in the world", there is a resilience and spirit which makes them believe they are almost unbreakable in an unbeaten run that now stands at 13.

"Winning is winning, regardless of how it looks," said Wales wing George North. "There is a belief in the squad, a vibe that we can go toe-to-toe and go through the ugly parts and dog out games when we need to.


"Since the autumn, we've been a yard off the pace. We've shown glimpses, but haven't really hit our straps. We know there is another level there. We have just got to make sure we get in a good week's prep without any rubbish flying around the place."

The blazers should stay away. Gatland has already entreated the Welsh crowd to turn up in full voice and fervour.

"The atmosphere and passion and drive will have a significant impact," Gatland said.

"And the beauty is we get an extra day to prepare than Ireland [who beat France 26-14 yesterday]. So that will be a challenge for them."

Typical Gatland. How the Welsh, if not his Six Nations rivals, will miss him.