Wales head coach Warren Gatland feeling confident for Six Nations
Gatland’s men launch the tournament by hosting in-form Scotland on February 3
Wales boss Warren Gatland says he is “pretty happy” with a Six Nations schedule that includes an early clash against title holders England at Twickenham.
Gatland’s men launch the tournament by hosting in-form Scotland on February 3, then it is England seven days later, followed by another fiercely difficult game against Ireland in Dublin.
“I am pretty happy with the draw,” said Gatland. whose team are fourth favourites for the title with most bookmakers.
“That’s a great bet” Warren Gatland’s response when told the rather long odds for Wales winning the @SixNationsRugby when he met the media this afternoon (remember to bet responsibly folks)... pic.twitter.com/Vk0KE67ARs— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 16, 2018
“Scotland first up is a good challenge for us. If you can win those first two games, you have a chance of winning the championship.
“It is always a good position for us to be in where people tend to write you off.
“Our players have always thrived on being underdogs. People put the boot into them and they respond. It is a good position for us to be in.”
Wales’ prospects, meanwhile, look set to be boosted by Northampton wing George North being available for the Scotland opener in Cardiff.
SQUAD NEWS 🏴 Wales squad for 2018 @SixNationsRugby, led by @AlunWynJones and featuring two uncapped players in @JoshAdams951 and @cubbyboi. Llongyfarchiadau i'r bechgyn i gyd. https://t.co/SSg9bSLbku pic.twitter.com/ohFVocPDoE— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 16, 2018
North has been recently sidelined by a knee injury, but Gatland delivered an upbeat assessment on his recovery after naming him in a 39-man Six Nations squad that includes uncapped Worcester wing Josh Adams and Scarlets flanker James Davies.
“There is potential for him to maybe start for Northampton this week, or he might be on the bench,” Gatland added.
“He is a player that needs to play some rugby to get confidence, especially with his knee. Hopefully, we can get some rugby into him.
“The debate is whether rugby is the more important thing, or is it being with us for two weeks of preparation. I think the following week is an Anglo-Welsh game, and is that beneficial?
“Does he need a week with Northampton training and playing, or should he come in with us and get ready for that first match?”
Scrum-half Rhys Webb is another squad inclusion, but it could be his final Wales campaign for some time.
Webb joins French giants Toulon next term and will therefore be ineligible for Wales as he will be playing outside the country and has not reached that specific qualifying criteria of 60 caps.
“You don’t know the circumstances and how things work out for him out there (Toulon), how he settles, injuries and things,” Gatland said.
“We just felt that given the quality of player he is, when he is playing well he can make a big difference. We want to do well in this tournament.
“There are policies in place, and new agreements can always be made with the regions.
“I would like to see common-sense prevail. If he wasn’t available for the (2019) World Cup, but we did pick up a couple of key scrum-half injuries, that maybe people could make an exception. That is just speculation at the moment.”