Wales boss Warren Gatland fires World Cup warning to misfiring stars

Free Press Series: Wales boss Warren Gatland fires World Cup warning to misfiring stars Wales boss Warren Gatland fires World Cup warning to misfiring stars

WALES boss Warren Gatland says that his under-fire team are playing for their World Cup dreams when they line up against France tomorrow evening.

They may have won successive Six Nations crowns but the pressure is on Wales at the Millennium Stadium following a woeful display against Ireland.

Gatland's men have copped an awful lot of flak after being dismantled 26-3 in Dublin but the head coach has refused to ring the changes with scrum-half Mike Phillips the only high profile casualty.

The New Zealander expects his charges to repay his faith against Les Bleus – and if they don't he says he won't be afraid to wield the axe ahead of next year's World Cup.

"I've had conversations with a couple of players where I've said that performance (against Ireland) was not what we expect and was not good enough," he said.

"They are aware of that and hopefully they will respond because it's not just important for us in terms of this competition, for a lot of those players they have got to start thinking about the next 12 months and the World Cup.

"If they don't play well on Friday night it could be the last time that they play for Wales."

In truth only a disastrous showing would lead to that being the case and it would seem to be Gatland being melodramatic.

But the likes of Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones and Dan Lydiate – who previously were shoo-ins – were sweating when their boss revealed his line-up.

"There's a chance to put the disappointment behind us and for players that have been good for us to redeem themselves," said Gatland.

"As a pack we just didn't front up," he continued. "I am sure they will make amends for that on Friday night."

Phillips' spot goes to Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb, lock Luke Charteris comes in for Newport Gwent Dragons skipper Andrew Coombs and Liam Williams replaces Scott Williams with George North shifting from wing to centre.

"We weren't happy with Mike's performance against Ireland, and we just felt it was an opportunity for Rhys," said Gatland. "He (Phillips) probably just got a little bit confrontational with one on one with Conor Murray.

"It is probably an opportunity for him to reflect on his performance, which is why we have put him on the bench and given Rhys a chance.

"It is important we give someone else an opportunity in that position to stake a claim, and also give us some depth in that role as well. He (Phillips) always responds well to a challenge."

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (captain, Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan).

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:11am Thu 20 Feb 14

mikeyd says...

Priestland still in at number 10!!!?
Priestland still in at number 10!!!? mikeyd
  • Score: 0

8:45pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Nunker says...

this is not the right choice to be making ,it is not the quality of the players have been changed it is the politics that as been cast upon them, and these same politics have created much more damage than is seen by most , the changes need to be with the makers of the politics Ever since man sailed the seas on wooden boats the captain would be in the same frame of mind as the majority of the crew , The captain would not blame the sailor or sailors for the storm that approaches them and in war they went where the political leaders sent them, will you please get it and get to the real problem that is creating the devastation Graham Caffyn
this is not the right choice to be making ,it is not the quality of the players have been changed it is the politics that as been cast upon them, and these same politics have created much more damage than is seen by most , the changes need to be with the makers of the politics Ever since man sailed the seas on wooden boats the captain would be in the same frame of mind as the majority of the crew , The captain would not blame the sailor or sailors for the storm that approaches them and in war they went where the political leaders sent them, will you please get it and get to the real problem that is creating the devastation Graham Caffyn Nunker
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

Get Adobe Flash player
About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree