Tuesday 16 January 2018

Wales boss Warren Gatland tells fringe players to 'look at themselves' after Chiefs humiliation

Wales captain Luke Charteris shows his disapointment following the International Test match between the Chiefs and Wales at Waikato Stadium
Wales captain Luke Charteris shows his disapointment following the International Test match between the Chiefs and Wales at Waikato Stadium

Wales coach Warren Gatland has told his fringe players they need to take a hard look at themselves after they slipped to a 40-7 defeat to two-time Super Rugby winners the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Gatland was looking for players to put up their hands for selection for Saturday's second Test in Wellington, particularly as he needs to replace winger George North because of his hamstring injury, but he saw little to commend as the Chiefs ran in six tries.

Wales have now conceded 16 tries in three games this summer - five in the 28-13 defeat against England at Twickenham, another five in the 39-21 loss to the All Blacks last weekend and six more in Hamilton.

"It was disappointing. We asked a few questions of some players by giving them an opportunity, but some of them didn't take their chance and we weren't clinical enough in finishing off our chances," said Gatland.

"As a team we felt the Chiefs were tiring a bit, but they defended well and when the chances came their way they were excellent. They dominated us at collision time.

"Sometimes the game of rugby is very simple - it is a physical game about collisions and they were better than us in attack and defence in that area. A lot of our players will have learned a lot from that.

"There were a number of players tonight given a chance to go out and make a statement, perform and put their hands up for selection for Saturday. A few questions were answered for us about the fringe players and where they are at the moment.

"Players have been asking me for an opportunity and asking me why they haven't been selected. There are some very simple answers in the next few days with their performance.

"They have got to be honest about looking themselves in the mirror, going away, looking at that performance and what they learned from tonight and thinking about how they apply that to being better players in the future. We've got to do the same as coaches."

Gatland was returning to the venue where he helped Waikato beat Wales in 1988 and now has to prepare his side for two more Tests against the world champion All Blacks.

His opposite number, Dave Rennie, was delighted with his side's victory and is now looking forward to a game against the British & Irish Lions next year.

"These games are one-offs and I didn't feel as nervous as I normally do for a Super Rugby match. We were hoping that would be the same for the players so they could go out there and enjoy it," said Rennie.

"I didn't see that scoreline coming and at 21-7, when they nearly scored again, it could have been a different game. But we were very clinical and we built pressure after those opening 20 minutes.

"I was immensely proud of our defence - a lot of that comes from heart and togetherness."

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