Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Gatland eyes tough November

20th August 2013 07:00


SKY_MOBILE Warren Gatland British Irish Lions

Push on: Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland is focusing in on his side's November International schedule ahead of the new season.

Wales will take on South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia in a gruelling run of fixtures, but with several stars high on confidence following the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

"It's going to be a tough November," said Gatland to WalesOnline.

"We start with South Africa first up. Obviously they had a huge win over Argentina at the weekend and then we face Argentina, who we know will get better as the Rugby Championship goes on.

"We play Tonga on a Friday night and finish up with Australia again, so we know it's going to be hard.

"But we have always thrived on testing ourselves against the best. We will be doing that again in November and it will be ideal preparation going into the Six Nations early next year."

Gatland stated that the achievements of those Welsh players in Australia, with 10 starting in the final Test, were something to be deeply proud of.

However, the Kiwi coach was cautious to add that Wales had to back up their performances from the Six Nations with success in November.

"We should be really proud of what our Welsh players have achieved and we need to make sure that those players who have done well with Wales and the Lions recently kick on from that. We need to have a good autumn series," added Gatland.

"I think those players involved would have gained a huge amount of confidence from the tour.

"They all came away with a lot of credit. They were in great shape physically and a lot of those players were key components in the Test side.

"It's always a challenge post-Lions. The players will be excited and motivated but we must make sure we keep them fresh.

"With Wales the last three times we played Australia it's gone right down to the wire. We have led into the last couple of minutes, only to have the heartbreak at the end but I'm a great believer in learning from those scenarios.

"The players who went through those experiences have learnt and developed from it and a prime example was the performance in the last game of the Six Nations against England, where they played so well.

"It will be great for the team to be back at the Millennium Stadium in the autumn, back in front of their home fans and to return to the scene of where they clinched the Six Nations title earlier this year.

"I'm also conscious of giving our youngsters an opportunity to perform.

"We need to make sure we keep working with the younger guys and developing them as we look to increase our squad depth."