Six Nations: Warren Gatland insists Wales will ‘surprise’ teams at the World Cup

Dylan Coetzee
strike action Wales head coach Warren Gatland has remained confident that the Six Nations clash against England will go ahead despite the dispute between his players and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Warren Gatland claims that Wales will surprise some teams at the World Cup later this year with how much they will have improved.

Wales finished the Six Nations in fifth after a 41-28 loss to France in Paris on Super Saturday.

Expecting rapid development

Gatland’s return to the helm did not go as smoothly as he would have hoped, with losses to all teams but Italy. However, Wales seem to have started to find their feet, and the veteran coach believes things may be different at the global showpiece.

“We will surprise some teams in the World Cup by how good we will be and how much we will improve having that time together to prepare,” he said.

“We have taken steps in the right direction during this campaign but we have a lot of work to do.

“We have developed some youngsters who will learn from these experiences, and we will review stuff and what are the things we need to keep working on to not allow some of those soft tries we did concede.

“Today against a team like that when they get on top of you (Wales trailed 34-7 early in the second half), they can really punish you. A bit like the All Blacks.

“But the boys didn’t capitulate. They showed some heart and character. That is what we are looking for as a starting point.

“Some of the variation in the second half in terns of our game-management was much better. We put a few little kicks in behind and varied it nicely. I was pleased with the ambition of what the players were trying to achieve.”

Hard work required

Skipper Ken Owens echoed his coach’s sentiments and believes through hard work, the team will come right.

Owens added: “From the outset, we knew we wouldn’t be in a 12-9 arm-wrestle. We knew we had to score tries and we showed that.

“I am confident we will get better the more time we have together with that conditioning work and putting ourselves under pressure in training.

“That will solve those inaccuracies in our game that we’ve seen throughout the tournament.

“Personally, for me and a lot of the boys, it probably will be our last Six Nations game. It’s got to come at some point.

“I have seen enough over the last eight weeks of the work that the players, management and coaches are putting in. One thing with Welsh people, we work very hard.

“The more time as a Welsh team we spend together, the better we get. We will raise some eyebrows at the World Cup.”

Owens had missed some of the training week for the birth of his child, and he looks to get back to his family.

“Obviously, I haven’t trained much this week. That is probably why I was hooked (taken off) on 45 minutes,” he said.

“I was proud of Carys and becoming a father again. Everything went OK and it will be back to the family. Hopefully, Dwayne Peel (Scarlets head coach) will give me a nice little week off to enjoy with the family.”

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