Rugby Union: Gatland spells out his Welsh vision with genuine authority.
Warren Gatland has certainly arrived in Wales with a bang. And if anyone had any doubts about whether the no-nonsense New Zealander means business, they were quickly dispelled yesterday. Gatland has eased himself in since he was handed the job as the new Wales coach, but he is well and truly entrenched in the position now.
Rarely has a press conference dealt with so many issues than the one held at the Vale of Glamorgan yesterday.
And, in a breath of fresh air, the words Gavin Henson were not mentioned in the 20-minute address to the media, with the Ospreys centre thankfully taking his place in the 28-man Six Nations squad with the minimum of fuss.
Instead, in his first squad announcement, the Kiwi dealt with a range of issues starting with his decision to ask Martyn Williams to come out of retirement after one match and 106 days because Gatland felt Robin Sowden-Taylor and Ben Lewis are not up to it yet.
Gatland then moved onto the choice of Ryan Jones as Welsh captain before confirming that Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards were joining the Welsh coaching team on a part-time basis before clarifying the exact role of Lawrence Dallaglio.
Then, in line with his new foreign policy that Welsh players would be jeopardising their futures if they left the Principality to play their club rugby, Gatland issued a stark warning to Llanelli Scarlets scrum-half Dwayne Peel.
He said he would be willingly find a new international number nine if the Lion defected to Stade Francais or Sale when his contract at Stradey Park was up at the end of the season.
The elevation of uncapped Cardiff Blues wing/full-back Jamie Roberts seemed small fry in comparison. So quite an afternoon's work for the former Ireland and Wasps coach. And his opening match in charge against England is still almost three weeks away.: THE RUGBY WORLD ACCORDING TO THE NEW WALES COACH-WARREN GATLAND ON...:SELECTIONS I have been impressed by Jamie Roberts performances. We were a little bit concerned about his kicking game but against Harlequins he showed it was strong. He is a big physical player, possibly being out of position on the wing and I see him more as a full-back in the future. There are two or three others in contention outside the squad who have been unlucky. Gareth Williams has been playing well. There are always issues about his size, but hes been throwing really well. Hes unlucky not to be here as hes doing a really good job. The door is not totally shut on the likes of Colin Charvis or even Gareth Thomas and it is not the end for them.: CAPTAINCY WE have gone for Ryan Jones as captain and he is back, fit again and playing well. His ability is unquestionable on the pitch and he has the necessary experience to fill the captaincy role. I dont mind admitting we looked at a number of players for the role and Jonathan Thomas in particular is someone who stands out as a key leader and a possible captain for the future, as does Alun-Wyn Jones. I wanted someone who would be guaranteed to be in the starting XV. Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel will also be important leaders for us, but competition for places in their positions probably ruled them out at this time.: POLICY
WE want the likes of Dwayne Peel to stay in Wales because he is only 26 and we will be talking with the Scarlets through that.
If players like Dwayne Peel and a few others want to leave thats going to make it difficult for them, but not for me.
Ive got Mike Phillips and Gareth Cooper. And Im sure I can find someone else if I have to.
In the short term, I think what is being proposed is really good for Welsh rugby.
Whats disappointing about the selection policy that weve discussed is that people havent come out onto the front foot and said: This is great. This is good for the regions and good for Welsh rugby.
Everything tends to be a case of lets look at the negative first.
Im a little disappointed about that. In the short-term I think its a really good decision for Welsh rugby.
I know theres a few issues to work through and it is important to try to get the balance right. Hopefully, those are the issues we can resolve in terms of the foreign players we get in and in terms of if we do have a couple of quality players in the same position at the same region, how we deal with that. I know there are certain problematic things, I think we are all aware of that. But in general its a policy that really supports the regions and will help them, which is what we are about.: FROM PAGE 47: THE BACK ROOM
There has been lots of speculation about the arrival of Shaun Edwards and I have made no secret of my admiration for him as a player, a coach and a loyal friend.
He is an inspirational character and I know the squad players will get to know and respect him very quickly.
Rob Andrews view emerged after he could not retain Shauns services.
We have spoken with Wasps and I am confident we can juggle the roles.
I am incredibly surprised that Shaun has not been snapped up by England.
We are more than delighted to have him on board because it is a huge coup to have a guy who knows how to win.
We would have loved to have full-time but he is under contract with Wasps.
Rob Howley is also a man with great talent and a fantastic work ethic who I know will give nothing but one hundred per cent to the Welsh cause.
He was one of the best players I ever coached.
The story about Lawrence Dallaglio joining the coaching staff is rubbish. It was just an offer between friends because he is looking to get into coaching, so I invited him down to have a look at a training or sit with the guys over the dinner. That was the conversation, but somehow that has been turned around to him becoming part of the coaching staff and advisor to Wales.: MARTYN WILLIAMS
WE have had to mix the short-term and the long-term view and Martyn in particular is covering a specialist position.
I talked to him this weekend and told him we wanted to select him and he took a couple of days to think it over.
We feel he still has a lot to offer and we are delighted and excited he has accepted the invitation to play for his country again.
If in the next six weeks Martyn came to me and said it was not for him then I would respect him for that.
We have some good youngsters coming through, but there is a void there for an experienced seven.
The likes of Robin Sowden-Taylor are only going to benefit from having Martyn around at the moment for the next 18 months or two years.
Another player is Ben Lewis of the Ospreys and he is a very talented player. Those two are the front runners to take over from Martyn. But there is a void because the two young players are not playing regular rugby. I have not spoken to Robin about it, but it will be something I will do in the next few days or when we meet up.: EXPECTATIONS
ITS massive. And its the public as well as the media.
I went to a supermarket the other day and I was mobbed by people welcoming me to Wales and wishing me good luck.
Thats part of the job and Im aware of it.
Theres nothing wrong with the expectation. Weve just got to make sure the expectation isnt over the top.
Im not unaware of the expectations. This game is about getting the results and its about winning.
Im the worst in the world for losing. I cant stand it.
But if we get beaten by a better team on the day then I can take it on the chin and it gives me an indication that as a coach and as a squad we have to go away and work harder and there are things to do.
Sometimes that takes time.
But I just want to make sure the wave of expectation isnt Im the new coach, were going up to Twickenham in a few weeks time and we are going to come away with a victory.
For me, its a group of players coming into a new environment and will get an opportunity and my expectations are very simple for them.
Every time you put that red jersey on theres a responsibility, a responsibility to give 100 per cent to the jersey. If the players do that and come back and look themselves in the mirror afterwards and say that they gave 100 per cent, Im going to be more than happy.: TWICKENHAM
I DONT think we have anything to lose and we are not going to be daunted by going to Twickenham.
I think we will be going up that week really concentrating on our own performance.
Well have a little look at England from their World Cup stuff and look at a few individuals and that.
We will look at Englands strengths and weaknesses and see if we can spot any chinks in the armour.
But we wont be taking too much out of them. The performance will be about us. We will be going there without a huge amount of pressure on us externally. We want to go there aiming to create pressure on ourselves, thinking about what we expect, rather than what anyone else expects of us. If we can do that we can come away with a good performance. The coaching staff of myself, Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards can pass on their own experiences of winning there.
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Jan 15, 2008|
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