Warren Gatland pinpoints where Wales star needs to improve to go to the ‘next level’

Adam Kyriacou
Tommy Reffell Wales v England SN 2023 - Alamy.jpg

Wales back-row Tommy Reffell on the charge against England.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is hoping to see openside flanker Tommy Reffell add an extra string to his bow after impressing in their Six Nations loss to England.

Reffell was outstanding over the ball and defensively for his country at Twickenham on Saturday, as the visitors just came up short of sealing a famous victory on the road.

England number eight Ben Earl was named the official player of the match. However, it could quite easily have been Reffell following another all-action performance in red.

He just keeps going

Speaking after the defeat, Gatland admits he wants more from his in-form back-row and pinpointed adding to his attacking game as the next step in his development.

“We know how good Tommy is defensively, but we want him to be comfortable getting the ball in his hands a little bit more,” said the Wales head coach on Reffell’s progress.

“He has come on as more of an option as a running threat. We saw that last weekend and again against England.

“I’m absolutely delighted for him because he’s starting to get a nice balance to his game, and that can take him to the next level.

“He was outstanding against England, and he just keeps going for 80 minutes.”

Wales will no doubt be hugely frustrated with how England dominated the second half in the come-from-behind win, and Gatland thinks his players are lacking confidence.

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The head coach highlighted the Welsh regions’ United Rugby Championship and European form as possibly having a negative psychological impact on his team.

“Our focus is getting better from game to game, and I think we’ve done that,” he said.

“The boys are desperate to get a win, and probably the challenge for us is just knowing how important winning is.

“A number of players are coming from regional teams that haven’t had a lot of success.

“They’ve probably got used to not having that ‘W’ next to their name after performances. So it’s important we start doing that and be positive about doing that.

“One of the great things about playing for Wales is, having spoken to a number of players, when they come into this environment, they come in with confidence believing they’re good enough to win. We’ve just got to keep building on that.”

Captain’s reaction

Meanwhile, Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins failed to skirt around the results of their opening games as his team go into the fallow week with two defeats on the board.

“It’s extremely disappointing, but I’m proud of the boys for sticking in it every time. But it’s international rugby and it’s all about winning. Two losses hurts a lot,” Jenkins said, with Wales taking on Ireland in Dublin in their Round Three clash on February 24.

“It’s a special game, Wales against England. As you grow up you always want to be a part of it and get the win. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”

READ MORE: England dig deep to edge gritty Wales as they go two from two in Six Nations