Thursday 17 October 2019

Gatland: England have made a mistake... taking on farmers on a Friday

Warren Gatland. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Warren Gatland. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

James Corrigan

Warren Gatland believes England will put themselves at a big disadvantage even before they arrive in Cardiff for tomorrow's Six Nations clash. The Wales coach believes Eddie Jones has made a sizeable error with their travel plans by delaying arriving in the capital.

The home camp were surprised when they learnt that the visitors would not be leaving until after lunchtime on Friday - as the common practice is for squads to travel two days before. And Gatland has warned Wales's rivals that they may encounter travel problems on a renowned M4 blackspot - with belligerent farmers at the forefront.

"I think England are making a significant mistake by travelling tomorrow," Gatland said. "Coming through Newport at about five o'clock is probably not the best thing to be doing, going through the Brynglas tunnels. There is a good chance there could be tractors and buses holding them up. That's going to be an experience for them."

Gatland was in a positive mood during his team announcement, shrugging off Jones's claims that this could "be the greatest Welsh side of all time". If Wales prevail, they would break the country's record for their longest winning run by extending it to 12 games.

"The only quotes I can see about this being the greatest Wales team are from Eddie Jones," Gatland said. "It hasn't come from anyone else, so I wouldn't be disrespectful enough to say this was the greatest Welsh team ever. It's a long way off being the greatest Welsh team ever. He's the one talking us up."

"I think we are all aware we're on a great run and we've done well over the last 12 months, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. We are just trying to keep our feet on the ground."

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Gatland was keen to turn the spotlight back on to England, pointing out that of the starting forwards only Courtney Lawes, George Kruis and Billy Vunipola have played in an international at the Cardiff citadel.

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"The big challenge for England is five of their forward pack, it's the first time they are starting at the Principality Stadium," he said. "That's going to be a new experience for five of their players."

But Gatland sought to downplay the hostility, as the only unbeaten teams in the Six Nations prepare to do battle once more.

"The great thing about coming to Cardiff is the atmosphere. If there was any animosity in the past, that has all gone," he said. "There is a huge amount respect between the players from both teams.

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"With the Lions, the Welsh boys and English boys got on really well. I've already had a text from John Mitchell (England assistant coach) and Eddie saying they are looking forward to catching up after the game and having a drink."But Gatland was plainly confident about his side's charges, as he named Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe as his half-backs. "England have started extremely well in this competition," he said "I don't think anyone knows where we are at the moment, except for ourselves, which is a nice place to be in. We have trained exceptionally well in the last two weeks, and I don't think England know what team is going to turn up on Saturday. We do."

Wales:L Williams; G North, J Davies, H Parkes, J Adams; G Anscombe, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens, T Francis, C Hill, A W Jones, J Navidi, J Tipuric, R Moriarty. Reps: E Dee, N Smith, D Lewis, A Beard, A Wainwright, A Davies, D Biggar, O Watkin .

England: E Daly; J Nowell, H Slade, M Tuilagi, J May; O Farrell (capt), B Youngs; B Moon, J George, K Sinckler, C Lawes, G Kruis, M Wilson, T Curry, BVunipola. Rep: L Cowan-Dickie, E Genge, H Williams, J Launchbury, B Shields, D Robson, G Ford, J Cokanasiga

Telegraph.co.uk

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