Six Nations Rugby: Warren Gatland 'focused on final title for Wales'
Coach Warren Gatland says he is not focusing on anything other than winning the title in his final Six Nations tournament for Wales.
The New Zealander has been at the helm since 2007 and, ahead of the opening game against France in Paris tonight, says his sights are only set on victory for Wales.
“I haven’t really contemplated anything other than winning the Six Nations,” says Gatland.
Wales have not won the Six Nations since 2013, when caretaker coach Rob Howley led them to victory whilst Gatland was away on Lions duty. Read how some Wales fans will miss the match because of travel disruption back at home.
Gatland has led Wales to three Six Nations titles and also guided Wales to a 2011 World Cup semi-final as well as celebrating success with the Lions against Australia in 2013 and a draw against New Zealand in 2017.
Gatland says “I’ve been pretty open that we’ve got a good chance of winning the Six Nations”.
“I think if we win this first game, we can win it, given we have home games against England and Ireland.
“We came second last year which was OK. It would be great for us to win the Six Nations, but we know there’s the World Cup later in the year.”
The match promises to be a tough physical encounter. France will field an eight with a combined weight of just over 150 stones, spearheaded by prop Uini Atonio (22st 7lbs) and South African-born lock Paul Willemse (21st 3lbs).
Returning Wales flanker Josh Navidi says Wales are adopting a bigger-they-are-harder-they-fall policy.
Gatland says “The way we’ve tended to play against France is keep the ball on the park and not be afraid to kick long and try and find a bit of grass.
“They will kick a lot of ball out to try and slow the game down and play a lot off [Morgan] Parra at nine.
“There is no doubt they will have a big go at our scrum and try to maul us off the park. They were pretty effective in the autumn in that area.
“We’ve got to be on our mettle, and – from a defensive point of view – it’s paramount our line-speed and collisions are good.
“We’ve been working on that and talking about stopping their forward momentum which they can create from their pack.”
Meanwhile, Wales Women are due to fly to Montpellier tomorrow to play France the same day after their original flight from Bristol was cancelled because of snow.
The women will take on a “no fear” approach says their head coach Rowland Phillips.