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Edwards: Wales have missed Gatland

Shaun Edwards believes Warren Gatland's absence has hit Wales hard as the head coach returns to take charge following demoralising defeats to Argentina and Samoa.

Wales had entered the autumn window in bullish mood having won the Six Nations Grand Slam and pushed Australia all the way during their three-Test series Down Under. But any optimism has quickly vanished after abject displays against the Pumas and Samoans, which saw Wales booed from the Millennium Stadium field.

Gatland was not in charge for those fixtures as he made preparations for his task of leading the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia next summer, and assistant coach Edwards said: "We haven't had a meeting as yet where Warren has had a chance to speak to the players but the five of us have been a good coaching team over the past five years."

He went on: "If the gaffer is missing then it's going to hit you hard and we are much better when there are five of us all together.

"I expect Warren to be his normal self. He gives us some words of wisdom there is no doubt about that, and as the build-up goes on to Saturday he will get more and more involved."

Wales have come in for heavy criticism following their autumn defeats, which extended their current losing sequence to five matches and puts them in grave danger of missing out on a top-eight seeding for next month's 2015 World Cup draw.

Former captain Gareth Thomas went as far as to suggest the defeat to Samoa was down to a "pure lack of effort".

But Edwards dismissed Thomas' comments.

He said: "If he can show me specifics of the game then I would look at it and decide, but I wouldn't agree with that. Personally I felt it was two teams that were pretty equally matched, as they were at the World Cup when we got the better of a one-score game, just like South Africa when they (Samoa) played them as the World Cup.

"On Friday Samoa were a little bit better than at the World Cup because they had the tighthead prop who plays for the champions of France (Toulouse forward Census Johnston) and they had the tighthead prop who plays for the champions of England (Harlequins' James Johnston). That's why they have improved while we have slightly come back a bit because of injuries. That's why they won a one-score game this time."

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