Gatland hails southern spirit

Date published: November 27 2013

Wales boss Warren Gatland wants his charges to emulate the “never give in” attitude of southern hemisphere teams in both codes.

Wales boss Warren Gatland wants his charges to emulate the “never give in” attitude of southern hemisphere teams in both codes as his side go in search of a rare win against Australia.

Gatland's native New Zealand showed the way last weekend – the rugby league team beating England right at the death with a last-minute converted try in their World Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday before the All Blacks followed suit against Ireland in Dublin 24 hours later.

Wales, despite being Six Nations champions, have a dreadful record against southern hemisphere giants South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

And it is one that has barely changed since Gatland took charge, with Wales losing 21 out of 22 Tests against the SANZAR trio, the exception being a 21-18 win over the Wallabies in 2008.

But they have lost their last eight Tests against Australia, albeit the three most recent defeats were by a combined margin of just five points.

Last year's encounter was typical of the resolve Gatland so admires, with Australia beating Wales 14-12 at the Millennium Stadium thanks to Kurtley Beale's try in the closing seconds.

It was a painful lesson and one Gatland hopes Wales will have learnt from when they face the Wallabies in Cardiff on Saturday – the final major union international of 2013.

“It's that never-give-in attitude,” Gatland said.

We saw it in the rugby league as well.

“I can only talk about my own experiences. You fight until your last breath with everything you've got. That's the mindset.

“You try to bring that same attitude into the squads you are dealing with.

“With the Welsh team we've worked hard and are in great shape physically, and it's about transferring that into the little one percenters that we are now talking about.”

Gatland certainly knows what it takes to beat Australia having overseen the British and Irish Lions 2-1 series win over the Wallabies earlier this year.

Wales will have 11 players from the Lions squad in their starting line-up this weekend but the 50-year-old Gatland, a former coach of Ireland, said the experience would only be of limited value in Cardiff this Saturday.

“I don't think I learnt anything that I didn't already know,” Gatland said.

“You have to play for 80 minutes and there are periods of the game where they are going to come at you and you are going to have to soak up some pressure. It's going to be physical.

“The game at the very highest level is based in certain matches on a lot of emotion, and you have to bring that emotion with you.

“That is what I learnt from the Australia experience, that emotionally it's difficult to get the very highest level, and if you can on one or two occasions in a year that potentially makes the difference between winning and losing.”

Australia head into this weekend on the back of their best winning run of the year following successive victories against Italy, Ireland and Scotland on a Grand Slam tour that started with a disappointing loss to England.

“I think they (Australia) are getting some rhythm in their team,” said Gatland.

“They have some game-breakers, and it's great to see someone like Quade Cooper back in the side and playing with a huge amount of confidence.

“They have some real quality players in their team, but so have we. For all of us it's a game to look forward to in terms of world-class players on the field.”