Wales: Warren Gatland looking to focus on the Ireland Test after allegations against the WRU

Dylan Coetzee
Former Wales skipper Sam Warburton expects Warren Gatland to “love” being back in the hot seat for the Six Nations.

Wales boss Warren Gatland insists that his side is solely focused on their Six Nations opener against Ireland despite the shocking allegations of sexism and discrimination in the Welsh Rugby Union.

Chief executive Steve Phillips resigned from his post on Sunday after the allegations surfaced. An independent task force has been formed and will work with Sport Wales to address the concerns and advise on the make-up and remit of the panel.

Gain support of Welsh public

Gatland admits it has been hard to deal with the allegations and prepare for their clash with Ireland, but the focus is on gaining the support of the Welsh people.

“Last week, there was only one topic of discussion and that was understandable,” Gatland said.

“This week, the message to players is we have a Test match to focus on. Rugby has been the only talking point and the players have been great in terms of that.

“It has been a bit of a challenge, but our whole focus is on Saturday.

“It has been quite hard, but the important thing is looking forward to playing at home in the stadium and hopefully everyone’s focus in the next couple of days can be on the rugby side of things.

“We’ve got a lot to do to get some real support from the Welsh public and we will go a long way to doing that by giving them a really strong performance and hopefully making the fans proud.”

Acid test

Gatland’s first assignment will give him a good measure of where his squad is when the world’s top-ranked side travels to Cardiff.

“I am comfortable with losing if we get beaten by a better side.

“But what I won’t tolerate from the players and what I expect is that when they come off and they look themselves in the mirror, they can say, ‘God, I tried really hard today’.

“If those fans can see those players out there giving 100 per cent, then that is all I can ask for as a coach and that’s all that I think the fans can expect.

“I often get asked about the Welsh and what they are like and they are very knowledgeable about the game, passionate and opinionated. And I love that.

“I think the emotion is all about playing in an incredible stadium, with a passionate crowd and the buzz that you get from that.

“There is a lot of pressure, a lot of expectation, a lot of scrutiny – that comes with the role – but there is nothing better than playing in a full stadium with the intensity that is required.

“And the way that these guys have been this week, I am confident they will go out there and demonstrate how much it means for them to put their red jersey on and how much it means for them to play for Wales.”

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