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Black kits respectful to hosts - Gatland

Warren Gatland believes Wales and England taking black change kits to the World Cup next month is a mark of respect towards host nation New Zealand.

England, especially, have been in the firing line from certain elements in New Zealand angered because they feel the World Cup away shirt disrespects the All Blacks.

Wales also have a black change jersey for the World Cup campaign - albeit it with red panels on each side - and New Zealander Gatland believes it should be viewed in a positive fashion.

England unveiled their new apparel earlier this week and will wear it against Wales in Saturday's opening World Cup warm-up Test at Twickenham.

Gatland said: "A lot of people are making issues out of having a black kit, but we have had a black away kit in the past.

"In professional sport there are commercial implications in kits, and I see going to New Zealand with a black kit as a sign of respect to the All Blacks.

"We all know how important the black kit has been to New Zealand and how significant it has been in rugby and other sports.

"The black jersey is about respecting New Zealand as a nation and as a rugby country. That is the way we are looking at it."

Gatland will name his starting line-up for Twickenham tomorrow, with captain Matthew Rees the only confirmed non-starter as an ongoing neck problem continues to be treated.

Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton, who led Wales against the Barbarians in June, will continue as skipper in Rees' absence.

And one of Warburton's back-row colleagues could be Gareth Delve, who will realise a lifetime rugby ambition if he makes the Wales World Cup squad.

Delve, fresh from a first full season of Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels, is about to embark on an August Test schedule that will decide his World Cup fate.

And the former Gloucester captain is determined to do everything in his power to be part of a 30-man group that leaves for New Zealand on August 31.

He has never previously played in a World Cup - shoulder and knee problems during an injury-hit career wrecked his hopes in 2003 and 2007 - yet Delve has arguably found the form of his life heading towards the first of two August fixtures against England.

"It is great to be involved and have a chance to get on the plane for New Zealand," he said.

"My ambition has always been to play in the World Cup, and it is up to me now to show that I am worth a place. It is a big opportunity for me."

© Press Association