Head coach believes team can go all the way in Japan
WARREN GATLAND yesterday underlined his belief that Wales can win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
And Gatland, who spent last season on British and Irish Lions duty, reiterated his excitement about Wales’ World Cup countdown.
Gatland will step down following the tournament, ending a 12-year reign as Wales head coach, but there is plenty to occupy him during the next two years.
“I am really excited about the next two years, the planning and the countdown,” he said. “I am excited about the group of players that have come through.
“I am committed to Wales. I need to reiterate that.
“Six months ago, and I don’t know where it came from, there was speculation that I would do the Lions and I wouldn’t be coming back. I got asked that on numerous occasions in different press conferences.
“You are away for 12 months, concentrating on the Lions, but when you come back here your whole focus is on winning the World Cup. I need to stress that we can win the World Cup.
“We know we have to stay healthy and not pick up too many injuries, but what’s exciting about this group of players is, given their age-profile and their experience, we should be able to go into the
World Cup campaign with some real experience, some exciting youngsters and a fantastic balance.
“Apart from New Zealand, traditionally World Cups are won with an age-profile of teams of late 20s, early 30s, and that’s kind of exactly what we are going to be like as a squad, with a large number of experienced players and some exciting youngsters, too.”
Gatland, meanwhile, has described next week’s planned forwards training session with England as “a great idea.”
The contested set-piece workout in Bristol will be staged five days before both countries launch their autumn Test schedules, with England hosting Argentina and Wales entertaining Australia.
The session will be overseen by top Welsh referee Nigel Owens, who controlled the 2015 World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia.
“It originated out of a conversation I had with Steve Borthwick [England forwards coach] about three or fours weeks ago, just floating the idea about whether he would be interested in meeting halfway for a session,” Gatland added.
“He said he would need to check it with Eddie [Jones] and clear it with him, and he came back and said it was all go.
“Given our proximity, it is a great idea to be able to do that. We are looking forward to it. It should be good for both teams.
“I think it will be well-managed. We are doing some lineouts against each other, then have a good scrummaging session. Both sets of forwards need to get as much out of it as possible.
“If we both get something out of it, it is definitely something that we could look at for the future, maybe before summer tours.”