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Gatland back for Wales

Warren Gatland will hope to achieve what no other Wales international head coach has accomplished on Saturday evening - a victory over New Zealand.

Gatland has overseen considerable success during his 54-Test Wales reign, including two Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final appearance that represented Wales' best showing on a global stage since 1987.

The 49-year-old is back in charge for Wales' remaining autumn appointments with New Zealand and Australia after a break due to duties as British and Irish Lions head coach, and his assistant Rob Howley said: "The boss has been back this week. It has been nice to have another pair of eyes and ears. All the players and coaches have enjoyed having Warren back."

He went on: "He is one of the best head coaches in world rugby, and I think any coaching team would miss a person of his calibre.

"We've been a really good coaching team over the last four or five years, and to have one of the best head coaches in world rugby back gives huge confidence to players and coaches.

"He is very astute, he is a very honest coach. He's been involved over the last two weeks as well. He has come in, watched training and spoken with players.

"Warren's greatest strength is that he is very, very optimistic, and whatever challenge is thrown in his path he believes he can win. That certainly rubs off on players and coaches."

The form guide suggests a comfortable New Zealand triumph, but Wales are capable of pushing them if they can eradicate basic mistakes and clinically execute their attacking game.

"When you are playing against the world's best side, every minute counts. It is important to dominate territory and possession early on," Howley added.

"I am sure every game is about that, but when you are playing against the world's best what you don't want to give them is an early opportunity to get up on the scoreboard. It is absolutely vital that we start well. We've spoken many times this week about our ability to play with the ball and put New Zealand under pressure with a passing game."


From Belfast Telegraph