Gatland wary of ‘disciplined’ French side

Date published: March 13 2018

Warren Gatland insists Wales will be ready to face a 'disciplined' France side in Saturday's Six Nations finale at Principality Stadium.

Wales moved up to second in the tournament standings with a 38-14 victory over Italy, with Les Bleus next to arrive in Cardiff.

Ireland have already won the title and are chasing a Grand Slam against England, but Wales have their own priorities in looking to finish as runners-up.

On the challenge ahead against France, Wales head coach Gatland said: "I think they'll be good. Their defence looks strong at the moment and it was good in the first game against Ireland.

"They were unlucky not to win that one and then they started well against Scotland.

"Having a few more games under their belt and a win against Italy means they are showing some cohesion now having been together for a number of matches. I thought they were exceptionally good against England.

"It is going to be a tough game for us, but we are pretty happy with the record we have had against France in the past and we know there is an opportunity to finish second in the Championship which is pretty important for us."

Wales scored five tries against Italy, with man of the match Hadleigh Parkes opening the scoring and wing George North adding a brace of tries. Cory Hill and Justin Tipuric also crossed.

"France have had a lot of things that have gone against them and have even had to regroup in this Championship with some players moving out of the squad," Gatland said.

"You have to take your hat off to Jacques Brunel in terms of the discipline he has brought into the squad.

"They played with discipline against England. They were really direct with the way they played and deserved to win the match."

Gatland was pleased with Wales' performance against Italy on the whole, but demanded an improvement on his team's penalty count.

The New Zealander admitted he's been given food for thought as he ponders his selection to face France.

"I was pleased with Owen Watkin. He just did his job and did not make many mistakes. He was excellent," Gatland said.

"He did really well for the break he made and he defended well. That is an aspect we have seen in his development. He is a player we have had a lot of hope for, but he has been unlucky with injury.

"Part of the plan against Italy was to make changes and we knew that was taking a risk.

"We have come unstuck in the past making that many changes so to get that score line was incredibly pleasing, especially as there were aspects to improve on.

"With a couple of guys rested we can bring guys in after a six-day turnaround who will be a bit fresher."