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'We realise we have to change our style of play if we want to rule world'.

Question: What happened at the end of last year's World Cup? Martyn Phillips: We had a really big review at the end of the World Cup in November. I was new in then and had the opportunity to take a long, hard, objective look at whatwe were trying to do.We said our key goal was to be more competitive in the next World Cup in 2019. But we asked ourselves the question, 'Did we think that the way we were playing would enable that to happen?' Our sense was that clearly there were elements of our game that worked, and worked well. We felt we had a good coaching team, a good core of players and a pretty good track record in big tournaments.

But we realised we were tending to base that on an attritional, powerbased and fairly tight game plan. We believed we could evolve this group into something more successful if we could evolve the game.

The World Cup review in its totality showed we didn't believe the way we were playing was going to see us succeed in the next cycle.

If you talk to Rob Howley he will say that the Australia game (World Cup pool decider) was a seminal moment for him. It took him weeks to get over that. We can't change that, but what we can do and have done is change things moving forward.

Q: How will the game plan evolve? MP: We took a long hard look at whatwe believed we wanted to do. Before my time, there was a conscious decision to play in a certain way. That actually brought quite a lot of success. This coaching team executed that game plan.

But we have now made a decision to play in a different way, so this team I believe can execute that plan. We have chosen players, trained and selected to deliver a game plan that has seen us win some Grand Slams.

We all agreed that won't work through to the next World Cup. The big issue for us was around wanting to play a more expansive game. We felt we could achieve this, but realised that to do that the intensity at which we played and trained needed to increase.

We also need more depth in our playing squad. The injuries going into and picked up through the World Cup were quite hard to cope with and we don't want to get to the next World Cup without more depth in key positions.

Q: How is the change in style going to occur? MP: Sitting down with the match analysis and strength and conditioning coaches you can see all the data that is coming through that shows the progress we are making that hasn't come through on the pitch just yet.

We need to keep the power in our game and build in the speed and endurance. We are playing well for 60-65 minutes, we can all see that, but we now know we have the level of endurance to play for the full 80.

What we need to do is have the confidence and mindset to trust ourselves to play for the full 80. I sat in on all the team meetings and Warren and his squad and all the coaches are encouraging the players to play what is in front of them and to take risks.

The Taulupe Faletau and Alun Wyn Jones tries were exact replicas of what I've seen the players doing in training for two weeks, but we didn't see in the Six Nations. You can start to see things emerging and we have got to keep our belief and not be knocked off course by opinions.

Q: How long will it take the players to adapt to the change in style? MP: We are in a lead and lag situation. We know how we are training, what we are doing and where we want to go with the players. That hasn't quite come through on to the pitch in a game situation as yet. But it is our belief that it will come.

We have got a stable first-choice team and you are starting to see things beginning to work.

Q: How can the change in style at the top work its way down to the regions? MP: Warren had a region by region review with the head coaches

and their teams in May. That hadn't happened before. Geraint John (Head of Rugby Performance) was part of that and Geraint was in New York with the coaches at a World Rugby coaching meeting earlier this month.

I think we are pretty aligned now on how we want to train and play. We have another workshop in July with all the regional coaches when we will revisit their reviews and look at the review of this tour.

We all know that we can't be successful without the regions, and vice-versa.

I'm going to be chairing the Rugby Management Board each month moving forward because I want to get closer to that vital area to make sure the execution is there.

Those monthly meetings will include Geraint, Rob Howley, Warren and the regions every month.

Q: What steps have you taken? MP: We have put together a four-year rugby strategy. The appointment of Geraint John to concentrate on elite performance (Head of Rugby Performance) and Ryan Jones'(Head of Rugby Participation) positioning to look after community rugby were the first major changes. That was all about investing in and bringing accountability to those areas.

Q: Who will be Warren Gatland's assistant coaches over the next few years? MP: I sat down with Warren and reviewed his whole coaching team While Shaun Edwards was out of contract in November, and had his deal extended through to 2019, we also felt that this was a coaching team that was working well together, was tight and had an ambition to go a couple of steps further.

At that point we re-contracted them - the back room staff, the whole package. We looked at the coaches as a team and this is a team that works well together, it has trust.

You can bring one of two people in to convince yourself you are bringing change, but there is a risk to that. In Paul Stridgeon (conditioning guru) we have someone who definitely brings something different and he is relatively fresh into his role.

Q: What happens if Warren is asked to coach the Lions again, in New Zealand next year? MP: It is slightly ironic at the moment that when you read the press they are questioning whether Warren is the right guy for Wales, yet on the other side of the ledger some are suggesting he is a shoo-in for the Lions job.

What I've learned over the last few weeks is that in New Zealand they hold Warren in massive regard.

Warren has to get it on merit. He has got to get it because he believes he can do it and so do the people who select him. It isn't automatic.

If he does get it then I think it will be good for him. He has been in post for quite a while and I think it would be good for him to go away for a year, get a different perspective and have a degree of reflection and reinvention.

I think we can turn it into a positive. I didn't realise how many of the Welsh backroom staff went with Warren on the Lions' tour of Australia in 2013.

If he is given the job we know exactly what we are going to do. We have a plan in place, but we will only reveal it if it happens.

Q: Have you got plans to bring back the Wales A team? MP: We will reconstitute the Wales A team for next season. We would probably have liked to have played an A fixture in the spring, but we were carrying so many injuries it would have been too difficult.

We believe that if we can get some A team fixtures into the equation, utilise all our data, identify at Under-20 level and upwards those players who can handle the intensity, and help to improve those who can't just yet, we can actually move forward quite rapidly.

We want to play one or two fixtures to improve our depth. We believe getting the Wales A team up and running can help both ourselves and the regions by exposing the next cadre of players to a different, higher level of competition.

That was the big lesson we learned from our midweek game against the Chiefs last week. They will be Six Nations fixtures to start with, but we have an open mind over other opponents.

To Warren Gatland's credit, he always wants to play sides that put his coaching record under threat. I see that as a real strength.

Q: How will the Wales A team fit into the master-plan? MP: A big part of my job is making sure that the Wales A team and Under-20s are about development and then winning, but in that order.

We have all seen how the coaches have rotated players in the U20 Six Nations and Junior World Championships.

We still won the Grand Slam, but I would rather have seen us rotate the side and possibly not win the Grand Slam because we have to keep throwing players in to experience that level.

We simply don't have the strength in depth and the only way we are going to improve that is by exposing players to situations they find difficult. I have to give the confidence and support to the coaches so they realise we are OK with that. That makes me even more accountable than they are.

Q: What happened to Wales against the Chiefs? MP: It was a tough night at the office, but no excuses. I was disappointed and so were the players. But if they hadn't had that experience we might have lost a year in our plan.

What we saw were players experiencing the pace, intensity and skill levels of Super Rugby in real time. We sometimes overcook the significance of the result. Of course we wanted to win, but we might have someone who plays in the next World Cup and the genesis of their ability to perform at that level was on the pitch in Hamilton.

We now have a group of players who understand that you have to play what is in front of you.

The Chiefs were lethal at taking any opportunity they got, but I think we might well be able to look back in a few years' time and say that fixture, along with bringing back the Wales A team, were two key planks in our strategy.

I'm comfortable with the emotional reaction that followed that result. It shows that everyone cares.

When you are winning you aren't always as good as you think you are, and when you are losing you aren't always as bad as you think you are.

Q: Is the amount of money available for National Dual Contracts being increased? MP: At the same time as we had the review, we increased the NDC pot by PS500,000. We agreed that with the regions in December. We are serious about retaining and repatriating key players. The players know that.

Q: Where does Welsh rugby stand? MP: We are coming into year two of the strategy and we have plans around how we can freshen things up.

I know we have to build for long-term sustainability and not to be popularist and take short-term, crowd-pleasing decisions. Geraint, Ryan and Warren are accountable with me for delivering the strategy. They are under pressure, and so am I. That's what we are paid to do.

Back to the future for Wales A | The old second-string side last played a game in April 2002, with the team being scrapped the following season by David Moffett as a cost-cutting measure.

| The last coach of Wales A was Mike RuddocR k, with the likes of Tom T Shanklin and Shane Williams W involved in the final 2002 campaign ahead of the team being mothballed.

Since then, the Wales Under-20s has operated as the tier below the national side and as a team that binds a player to Wales.

When the A team is introduced, that would take over as the official Welsh second-string. Every nation has to nominate a "capture team", which binds a player to that country if he plays for the side.

nominate their A team - which the RFU cU all the Saxons - some choose their sevens sides. Others, like Wales, currently choose their U20s.

| So if a player lines up for Wales a U20s against another country that uses that age-grade side as their capture team, such as France, from then on he can only represent Wales at senior level.

With an A team, representing the U20s would no longer bind you to Wales.

That has been an issue for some English-based players recently with a number of young stars having chosen not to represent to represent Wales at U20 level in order to keep their eligibility open for senior sides.

CAPTION(S):

<BMartyn Phillips said he had seen tries like the one scored by Alun Wyn Jones while watching Wales training

<BMartyn Phillips, right, has a watching brief with Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies in New Zealand HUW EVANS AGENCY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 22, 2016
Words:2250
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