- Gatland makes three changes for Fiji clash
- Believes that the governing body should consider extending the break between World Cup matches.
- Has insisted he will drop anyone who is shirking in training
- Dismissed claims Wales may have been spying on Australia
Warren Gatland conceded that he believes something must be done long-term to address the number of players being injured at Rugby World Cup’s but wasn’t using it as an excuse heading into their crucial match against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday night. .
The Wales head coach, who already masterminded a victory over England with a depleted squad, now turns his attention the flying Fijians with his team only having had four days to recuperate following their bruising narrow win at Twickenham.
However, the New Zealand-born Gatland wasn’t using this as an excuse heading into their crucial clash.
“It’s something we all need to be aware of because it’s a pretty brutal game at the moment,” he said.
“It’s important we consider and look after the welfare of our players as well.
“I’m not complaining about the short turnaround because we’ve known about that for a long time. We’ve had to prepare for that.”
Gatland has had to make three enforced changes with the first seeing Matthew Morgan coming in to start at full-back. The 23-year-old Bristol back will be making just his fifth cap for Wales since making his debut against the Springboks back in June 2014.
British and Irish Lion wing Alex Cuthbert has also come into the side for the injured Hallam Amos while Tyler Morgan will earn just his second cap as he replaces Scott Williams.
But the Wales head coach explained how he has been trying to ensure his players are in the right state of mind for the clash at the Millennium Stadium, insisting anyone could still be dropped.
“I gave them a bit of a rocket after naming the team,” he said.
“I said to them that while the morning training session would be lighter, I would be looking at their intensity in the afternoon. I told them that if I saw that anyone’s body language was not right, I would change them [in the side].
“The challenge we face now is not physical but mental and our job as coaches is to make sure that they are mentally right.
“We have a very simple mantra about working and training hard and it has been successful for us. We talk about what it means to pull on the jersey and what respect involves and training with an intensity we can replicate on match day, simple philosophies. I am very lucky to have a team of analysts, medics and coaches who are world class. It makes a difference when you have quality people.”
Gatland also rejected a claim from the media on Tuesday which alleged that Wales may have been involved in spying on a recent Australia training session. Wales still have to play the Wallabies at Twickenham on October 10.
“We haven’t got fences around us, and we are not interested in spying on anyone. There is enough analysis going on,” he added.
“If anyone’s doing it, good luck to them. It’s not something that we’re interested in doing, or particularly worried about.
“If you start getting paranoid about those sorts of things, it is going to take your mind off what you are supposed to be doing.”