Warren Gatland outlines ambitious plan to take Wales to Rugby World Cup final

Warren Gatland has underlined Wales’ desire to do better than their previous three Rugby World Cup campaigns and reach the final.

They were semi-finalists in 1987 and then twice under Gatland – in 2011 and 2019 – and were eliminated at that point in each case.

A bonus point win over Pool C rivals Fiji last weekend lifted Wales into the places and if they repeat the feat against Portugal on Saturday their quarter-final ambitions would be further boosted.

Australia and Georgia are still awaiting a possible date in the round of 16 against England or Argentina in Marseille next month.

“We have always been confident in the past about World Cups and the ability to bring the team together over a longer period of time,” said Wales head coach Gatland.

“We believe we have performed well in previous World Cups and would like to reach the final of a World Cup.

“I’ve said before that we shouldn’t be written off and that this team is capable of doing something special and I still believe that.

“One of the key themes and core message going into this World Cup was to make sure we are a hard team to beat and when we are a hard team to beat then things can happen for you.

“The first priority is to be a really difficult team to beat. And if we can do that, get things right, our preparation is good and we don’t suffer too many injuries, then there’s no reason why we can’t continue to go far into this tournament. That is the plan.”

Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Log in

Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Log in

Portugal are next, with Gatland making 13 changes to the side that started against Fiji, retaining only winger Louis Rees-Zammit and number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The countries have met only once before – 29 years ago in a World Cup qualifier in Lisbon, which Wales won 102-11 – and Portugal was appearing in the tournament’s group stage for the first time since 2007.

Gatland added: “From previous experience with Taulupe he is a player who gets better with more playing time.

“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby and hasn’t played any warm-up games, so that just backs him up.

“It’s the same situation with Louis. He’s been fantastic over the last five or six weeks and I want him to continue playing.

“They (Portugal) are kind of a similar version of Fiji. They play a lot of rugby, they have some exciting players, they like to move the ball so we are almost as prepared as we were against Fiji.

It’s a great opportunity for players to stake a claim on Saturday

Warren Gatland

“Watching the games last week, I thought from a neutral perspective it (Wales v Fiji) was probably the most exciting game of the weekend in terms of the rugby that was played.

“It wasn’t great as a coach sitting in the box for the last ten minutes, I can promise you that, but hopefully we can have another great game of rugby.”

Fiji came close to overturning an 18-point deficit in a hectic final quarter in Bordeaux, with center Semi Radradra unable to field a pass in the final seconds that could have led to a crucial try.

However, Wales held their own in nerve-wracking fashion to claim a win that in many ways established them as favorites to win the group.

“We were overjoyed with the win, overjoyed with the preparation, everything went brilliantly with the result for over 60 minutes. And typical Fiji, they get a bit of breathing room and came back really strong against us in the last period,” Gatland said.

“The game is over and decided, it is now past us and the focus is on Portugal. Hopefully we do a good job on Saturday and then travel on to Australia next week.

“It’s a great opportunity for players to stake a claim on Saturday and if they go out and someone puts in a great performance then they’re definitely in the running. That’s how I see it.”

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing emma@ustimespost.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button