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Warren Gatland wants ‘no excuse environment’ after returning as Wales boss

13 Dec 2022 4 minute read
Wales head coach Warren Gatland, with WRU Chief Executive Steve Phillips (left) and Ieuan Evans (right) during a press conference at the Principality Stadium. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

Warren Gatland wants to operate in a “no excuse environment” after taking charge of Wales for a second time.

The New Zealander’s previous spell as Wales head coach between 2007 and 2019 delivered four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, two World Cup semi-final appearances and a brief time as rugby union’s world number one team.

This time around, though, he arrives after a year that produced just three victories from 12 games under Wayne Pivac, which included home defeats against Italy and Georgia.

Gatland will mastermind Wales’ Six Nations and World Cup campaigns next year, and he said: “How do you create an environment where there are no excuses?

“That’s what I’ve done in the past, a no excuse environment, so when players come into camp you can get the best out of them.

“That’s what we’ve prided ourselves on in the past, being able to do that.

“The challenge is doing that in the coming weeks so that players are excited about wearing that jersey and leaving everything on the pitch in terms of getting performances and results.

“One of the reasons when I spoke to Steve (Phillips, Welsh Rugby Union chief executive) was remembering the good times of being here, in front of 75,000 people.

“There is a lot of pressure and expectation, but that motivates you and gets you excited.”

Support staff

Gatland said that he has not had any discussions so far with Wales’ current coaching support staff – the likes of Stephen Jones, Jonathan Humphreys and Gethin Jenkins – who worked alongside Pivac.

“I haven’t spoken to any of the coaches,” he added. “There was a review process conducted by the union, and I am going through that process at the moment.

“I’ve got to make sure that I do the right thing and make the best decision for Wales and the team. That’s ongoing at the moment.”

Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Cardiff on February 4.

Ireland will arrive as the world-ranked number one team, and Gatland said: “It’s probably good, as they are the best team in the world, and rightly so.

“Getting them first up at home is not the worst thing. It’s a tournament of momentum. You win your first game and you’ve got a good chance of doing well.

“To get them first up, it’s probably the one game you want at home – playing against the best team where there is probably a bit more pressure on them.

“I wouldn’t be here doing the job unless I thought we were capable of winning things.

“There is a lot of pressure and expectation, but that is what motivates you and gets you excited.

“I look at success as not always about winning, but about over-achieving. You have always got to believe and dream.

“My upbringing in New Zealand, we always believed, even against the odds. If you work hard, you get results.

“That has always been my attitude, never ever afraid to take something on and think positive and believe if you do something, you can do something special.

“The advantage I’ve got is I am pretty familiar with the place. I know my way around. It is not as if I am coming in cold.

“There are players from when I was here last. It is about getting that balance of experience and development in place.

“I think we can get the best out of a group of players who are hopefully going to be pretty motivated to be part of the Welsh team.”

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