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Wales won't under-value England clash - Warren Gatland

Published 28/05/2016

Wales head coach Warren Gatland will send his team into battle against England at Twickenham on Sunday
Wales head coach Warren Gatland will send his team into battle against England at Twickenham on Sunday

Wales boss Warren Gatland says there is no danger of his players under-valuing Sunday's Twickenham Test match against RBS 6 Nations champions England.

Wales' previous two visits to English rugby headquarters this season were in the World Cup and Six Nations, when stakes were incredibly high.

This time around, summer tour preparation tops the agenda as Wales build towards a three-Test series against the world champion All Blacks in New Zealand next month, while England also head Down Under, where Australia await in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

"We want to go to Twickenham and play well, but it's looking longer-term and New Zealand, and throwing some things in because New Zealand do defend differently and play differently to England," Gatland said.

"You have got to be conscious of that, but there is no way we want to under-value how important it is when Wales play England because of the tradition.

"Over the years, there is very little between us with the win-loss ratio. They are a couple of wins ahead of us.

"It would be nice to close that ledger down in front of what should be close to a full house with a great atmosphere."

Gatland has made only five changes from the side beaten 25-21 by England 11 weeks ago - World Cup injury casualties Scott Williams and Rhys Webb are among those back on starting duty - while talisman lock Alun Wyn Jones wins his 99th cap after overcoming a long-standing foot problem.

Wales' opening clash against New Zealand is in Auckland on June 11, and Gatland feels that a traditional southern hemisphere tour theory - namely, the host nation possibly being at their most vulnerable in the first Test - has changed.

"Everyone used to talk about having the best chance of beating New Zealand in the first Test when they are underdone," he added. "I think it is the other way around now.

"Southern hemisphere teams are coming out of competitions where they are pretty battle-hardened and ready for that first Test, and we have demonstrated in the past that we have got better the longer we have spent together.

"It is why we wanted this game (against England), and a little bit more time together before we played the first Test.

"We have got to put something right on Sunday, not in terms of a performance, but in terms of an attitude.

"Mentally, we have got to be right. We have discussed that as management and players and thought we didn't get off the bus in that first 40 minutes against England in the Six Nations.

"We talked about it at half-time and put things right in the second half. That sometimes happens in sport. We have acknowledged and accepted that. That's the first step,

"The second step is going to New Zealand with some confidence that we are good enough on our day to beat the best team in the world.

"That is going to be a massive challenge because, looking at some of their teams in Super Rugby, they have been red-hot.

"People talk about New Zealand being weakened. They are going to be weakened from an experience point of view (they will be without the likes of Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith), but not from a personnel and skill point of view.

" We saw in the World Cup, the amount of experience they had in the team, there was never any panic.

"You have to be in the game, and hopefully the experience of our players who have been around for a long time and had success with the Lions in Australia, will allow them to do a job for us. We have to go out and play well."

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