Wales thinking big for All Blacks

Wales coach Warren Gatland has promised to bring a full strength squad to New Zealand this winter and maintains his belief that his side can beat the All Blacks. Wales play the All Blacks in tests in Dunedin and Hamilton in June and are also set for an outing against New Zealand Maori as a warm-up.
Wales finished a disappointing fourth in the just-completed Six Nations but Gatland is hoping to gain some momentum off their final match, a solid 33-10 win over Italy.

Warren Gatland

In the wake of that victory attention switched to their looming tour and Gatland was asked if Wales was capable of beating the All Blacks, something that hasn't happened since 1953. Gatland was full of positives and believes his side need to follow the lead of France who tipped over the All Blacks at Carisbrook last year and have gone on to be Grand Slam champions of Europe.

"On our day I think we are and that's the next level we have to get to," Gatland said with his comments reporting widely in British media. "At the end of the day we have to go there confident. We saw France go down there last year and get a win and we saw Italy go and have a good performance as well.

"It is important we go there with the belief that we are going to play some rugby and put them under pressure. "It's pointless us going with a defeatist attitude and not believing in our own ability."
The former All Blacks hooker, with strong connections in Waikato, said the tour was all about setting a platform for next year's World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

It would be a chance to familiarise everyone with what was in store in terms of facilities and conditions.
"The idea is to try and replicate the tour of New Zealand in terms of the World Cup so we will be looking to take a squad of about 30 players, maybe a little bit less, and spend time training in the places we will be the following year.

"We will stay in the same hotels and train at the same venues. It is about familiarising the players with the venues we will be at. "I am hoping everyone will be available, but we will need to check on some players who may have niggling injuries or be more in need of a rest. But ideally you want to take the strongest side you possibly can."

While Gatland is hoping to have his stars in New Zealand there are several players with question marks over them. James Hook (shoulder) and wing Leigh Halfpenny (hamstring) need surgery, while prop Gethin Jenkins and skipper Ryan Jones are plagued by calf problems.

There could be a temptation to rest veteran flanker Martyn Williams. Wales have maintained regular contact with the All Blacks under Gatland's reign and he sees that as central to the Cup chances.

The Welsh will also play world champions South Africa midyear. "We have a few tough months ahead with South Africa and New Zealand which will really test us," Gatland said.

"But we've purposely gone out to play the best teams in the world so when the World Cup does come around we're in the best possible shape to go there and have a good tournament. "To get better we have to perform consistently under pressure against the best teams week in and week out."

Consistency is Gatland's goal after their indifferent Six Nations. "We played some outstanding rugby (against Italy), created chances and we showed what we are potentially capable of," Gatland said. "There are still aspects of our play we can work on but at least the result against Italy was a confidence builder.

"It has been a frustrating campaign as a whole as I felt we haven't performed to our potential as there's a couple of games we let slip.

"And we think our position in the table doesn't reflect where we are as a team. But we still have a lot of things to work on.

"Yet on our day, if we get everything right and keep working, we're a side that can trouble any team in the world so we must build on the performance against Italy and hopefully some confidence comes out of it."

Thinking big . . . Wales coach Warren Gatland maintains a belief that his side can beat the All Blacks in New Zealand later this year.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other Sports Articles
Selectors in a quandary on the final squad
What’s good for the selectors is not good for the public
Basnahira North dominate proceedings at Galle
No changes at the top
Tiger’s weak-link: No classy bowler
Chaos!!! – By habit or by chance
Romeo in the act
IPL growing larger and larger
Can an African team win the 2010 World Cup?
Wales thinking big for All Blacks
Forty selected to rugby squad
Navy ‘A’ overall champs at five day Unity Race
‘Battle of Crusaders’ at Kalutara today
Sanjaya and Navin stamp their class
Navy impress at Carlton Super Sports Festival
Isipathana bags several Wushu awards
Deepal elected President of Kalutara Town Club
Trinity triumph over Isipathana
Mahinda advance to the quarters
Dillon, Hiruni and Auwardt dominate day one
Charith and Savin slam tons
Bad light spoils proceedings at Panadura
Kings Punjab crash again
Rain saves the Thomians from certain defeat


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2010 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution