Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Gatland relishing 'Pool of Death'

Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland has underlined his fierce determination to see Wales win the World Cup's so-called 'Pool of Death'.

Wales coach Gatland is relishing a prospect of tackling reigning world champions South Africa, Samoa and Fiji in New Zealand, starting against the Springboks on September 11.

Some might question Gatland's optimism given that Wales have only beaten the Springboks once from 25 attempts and previously suffered World Cup humiliation against Samoa and Fiji. But after naming a World Cup squad that will be skippered by 22-year-old Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton, Gatland said: "We want to win the group."

He added: "I think we are in great shape physically. We shouldn't go there with any fears.

"I really put the players under pressure the week of the second England game this month to beat England at home and to perform (Wales won 19-9).

"In the past, sometimes they have shied away from that responsibility. You could see the heads go down, but they fronted up to what was a big challenge.

"And last weekend, we didn't play that well, but to beat Argentina comfortably was a sign there is something in this squad that is hopefully going to show something at the World Cup.

"It has been a really good August for us.

"The hardest thing about coaching an international side is limited preparation time, and the fact we have had these guys together for a couple of months has made a massive difference to us.

"I would like to think that people think we are not in bad shape going to this World Cup."

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