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All Blacks injuries no help to Wales – Gatland

By Jack Davies
Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland does not believe New Zealand will be weakened by their lengthy list of injuries when the two sides meet in Cardiff on Saturday.


Gatland oversaw the British and Irish Lions’ series draw against the All Blacks earlier in the year and will now be hoping to mastermind Wales’ first win in the fixture since 1953.

World champions New Zealand will be without captain Kieran Read, as well as the likes of Brodie Retallick and Dane Coles, for this weekend’s match at the Principality Stadium.

But Gatland insists: “It doesn’t make any difference. They’re still the best team in the world.

“They could put out a fourth, fifth or sixth strength team and still beat most teams because of the players that they have.

“They’re obviously missing seven or eight of their regular starters from 12 months ago, but in saying that it’s an opportunity for them to develop some depth.

“We’re going through the same process. We’ve got four or five of our key players out as well and it’s a good chance for us to develop some depth too.”

Gatland is, though, feeling more optimistic about his side’s chances than in previous years, pointing to the experience gained by some of his players on the Lions tour.


“The reason I’m excited is probably the way the players have prepared themselves,” he added. “We have a group of players in the squad, some of them have had success in a different jersey.

“I think in the past, and rightly so, the All Blacks having been the best team in the world consistently, you have that fear factor about playing them.

“The fact that some of these players have played them on a regular basis, there’s not that trepidation. In terms of familiarity, that gives you a little more confidence going out there, having played against those players on a regular basis you feel more comfortable.

“These guys have prepared really well this week. They just seem calm and not so nervous and uptight as they might have been in the past.


“I think that’s the experience of people like Alun Wyn [Jones], or Ken Owens in the forward pack and Taulupe Faletau, just having had that experience of playing against the All Blacks.”

Gatland also commented that he expected the Williams-on-Williams clash – Sonny Bill versus Wales centre pairing Owen and Scott – to be key to the outcome of the match.

“That’s huge. We saw last week some of his offloading threat, we saw that in the summer as well,” he said.

“His ability to get his arms free, offload and free up the back lines – it was a pretty special try they scored at the weekend from that.

“It’s something we have spoken about, trying to limit that threat that obviously we will be exposed to at some point at the weekend.

“There’s no doubt at some stage a player of his ability will expose us and get the ball away. We’ve just got to be able to react to that.”


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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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