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Gatland ready for Fiji Test

Wales coach Warren Gatland aims to plot Fiji's downfall on Friday night - leaving the South Sea Islanders as victims of their own success.

Gatland acknowledges that had it not been for Wales' World Cup implosion against Fiji in Nantes three years ago, there is a "good chance" he would not be in his current job.

"I remember watching the game and thinking it was a great game of rugby," he recalled. "Fiji got out in front, then Wales came back."

The Welsh Rugby Union reacted swiftly to that 38-34 defeat at Stade de la Beaujoire, dispensing with Gareth Jenkins' coaching services less than 24 hours after a calamitous result confirmed an embarrassing pool stage exit.

Gatland remembers watching the nine-try thriller at home in New Zealand, blissfully unaware that just six weeks later he would be unveiled as Jenkins' long-term successor.

He added: "From what I understand, players perhaps didn't implement what the game-plan was supposed to be at the time. They went out and tried to take Fiji on at their own game and came up short.

"For me, as a neutral, I thought it was a great game of rugby. I have no doubt if Wales had won that day and got through to the quarter-finals (against South Africa), I think there is a good chance I wouldn't be sat here."

With the New Zealand All Blacks looming - and Wales having occasionally struggled against so-called lesser opponents during the November Tests - Gatland knows it is a night for no-nonsense rugby.

"In the past, the criticism for games like this is that we haven't quite turned up mentally," he added. "We've got to make sure there is a complete focus on Friday night and bring the same level of intensity we have brought to the last two games.

"Against Fiji, if we need to be direct at times, drive a couple of times or put the ball into the corner, we've got to do that. But when there is a chance to play, to use the talent we've got in our backs and we've earned the right to play and go wide, we need to make sure we do that."


From Belfast Telegraph