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Rugby World Cup: We can't dwell on injuries, insists Wales coach Warren Gatland

By Andrew Baldock

Published 30/09/2015

Wales head coach Warren Gatland
Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland has reacted in philosophical fashion to Wales' World Cup injury curse, admitting: "You cannot dwell on it - I can't do anything about it."

The Wales head coach has made three injury-enforced changes for tomorrow's crucial World Cup Pool A clash against Fiji in Cardiff.

Bristol full-back Matthew Morgan replaces Liam Williams, who is recovering from concussion, while centre Tyler Morgan replaces knee injury victim Scott Williams and wing Alex Cuthbert takes over from Hallam Amos, who is sidelined for the rest of the tournament with a shoulder problem.

It is otherwise the same team that beat England at Twickenham four days ago, with James Hook, who was called into the squad as a replacement on Monday, named among the substitutes.

Gatland has already lost almost a sixth of his original World Cup squad, with Scott Williams and Amos joining fellow casualties Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb and Cory Allen.

But victory over Fiji would put Wales within touching distance of securing a quarter-final place from arguably the toughest group in World Cup history, given that it also includes Australia.

"I was talking to (Wales' national medical manager) Prav (Mathema) yesterday, and he said it is probably the worst run of injuries he's been involved with as a team," Gatland said.

"You cannot dwell on it - I can't do anything about it. You just move on and go forward.

"You are disappointed for the players, but you move forward.

"We've still got guys who are battered and bruised. I don't know whether four or five-day turnarounds in World Cups are too short. We are not complaining, as we've known for a long time and prepared for it.

"When you are involved all the time, you don't see the changes, but the only gauge I have as a coach is my involvement with the Lions in 2009 and 2013.

"In those four years, I saw the difference in physicality. South Africa is one of the most physical countries to go and play and then, from South Africa to Australia, the step up in physicality and intensity increased massively.

"It's something we all need to be aware of because it's a brutal game at the moment. It's important we consider and look after the welfare of our players."

Gatland has retained the pack on duty against England, with flanker Dan Lydiate and No.8 Taulupe Faletau both winning their 50th caps.

Matthew Morgan, 23, and 20-year-old Tyler Morgan make first World Cup starts as Wales look to close in on the quarter-finals.Hook apart, the bench is unchanged from that on duty at Twickenham.

Gatland added: "The changes were forced, and there is an opportunity for that forward pack.

"Some of the guys weren't 100 per cent happy with their performance, so there is the opportunity to go out and fix a few things.

"We could have made some changes. I was impressed that a few players were happy with the win, but not 100 per cent happy with their own performance.

"We must make sure we are mentally right. It's incredibly important to get a result."

And Wales captain Sam Warburton has backed Gatland.

"We can't let all the hard work slip," Warburton said. "The players won't be in the wrong mindset for Fiji. There will be no complacency."

Wales: M Morgan (Bristol); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), T Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Roberts (Harlequins), G North (Northampton); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), S Baldwin (Ospreys), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Wasps), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), L Charteris (Racing 92), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Priestland (Bath), J Hook (Gloucester).

Fiji: M Talebula; T Nagusa, V Goneva, L Botia, A Tikoirotuma; B Volavola, N Kenatale; C Ma'afu, S Koto, M Saulo, T Cavubati, L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu, A Qera (capt), N Talei.

Replacements: V Veikoso, P Ravia, L Atalifo, N Soqeta, M Ravulo, H Seniloli, J Matavesi, K Murimurivalu.

Belfast Telegraph

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