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Warren Gatland

Head Coach Warren Gatland during training

Gatland braced for tough Georgia test

Warren Gatland was watching a game at Twickenham the last time Wales played Georgia and didn’t expect to see the final result with the Georgians coming out on top.

That was a year ago, when Levan Maisashvili’s side triumphed 13-12 in Cardiff to record one of their most famous victories, but that game hasn’t figured in the build-up to the final Pool C match at Rugby World Cup in Nantes.

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“I only watched the first half of that game as I was at Twickenham for a match there. At half-time, I was confident Wales would win that game and unfortunately everything came unstuck in the last 10 minutes,” said Gatland.

“That can sometimes happen in games, but we don’t look back. We haven’t spoken about that at all, we’ve just been looking forward from our own perspective.

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“We’re pleased to be in the position we are in at the moment, with the progress that has been made as a group, in the coaches and the support staff. We’re excited about where we are, and we are looking forward to going deep into this tournament.”

If recent rugby history means nothing to Gatland, he does feel there is something to learn from the warrior spirit of the Georgians. And he feels it is similar to that of the Welsh.

“When the Vikings came to England they didn’t want to come across the border to fight the Welsh because of how mad they were, and how much they’d defend their own territory and space,” said Gatland.
“Georgia are very much like that if you look at their history. They have had their own challenges and battles and wars.

“We’re very aware of that and very aware of how proud they are as a people. They defend in a very similar way to Wales.”

The game in Nantes will be Gatland’s 23rd in charge of Wales at the World Cup and his 27th when you add in four games with Ireland at the 1999 tournament. Having taken Wales to two semi-finals and a quarter-final in the past, he has once again guaranteed a knock-out place in France.

Wales v Georgia

Warren Gatland hasn’t discussed last year’s defeat to Georgia with the squad in France

A clean sweep of the four games in Pool C would see Wales once again top their pool and set up a quarter final clash with the winner of the game between Argentina and Japan. They need one point from the game against Georgia to finish top.

“I don’t think there is any secret to our success at the World Cup, it is just down to hard work. We have spoken in the past about the opportunity in World Cup years – the time you get with the players, the time you can put into things, and these guys have worked incredibly hard,” he added.

“We’ve been excellent in the way we have managed the players. We pretty much have a clean bill of health, in terms of no injuries, and I know that is hugely important for a country like Wales with such a small playing base.

“In the past, when we have got to quarter and semi-finals, injuries have had quite a significant impact on us. It was all about using the warm-up games for rotation, seeing where we were, seeing where the players were and for now it’s about getting better game to game.

“As you get to the business end of the tournament it’s about being prepared and hopefully having improved performances week on week. I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of what this group has put in.
“In making a comment or statement like that is about the confidence from not only what I say but from how hard they have worked. If we go in there and implement the game plan and have self-belief then we know we are a tough team to beat.

“And if you’re a tough team to beat, often the performance and results take care of themselves. You get a group of players who play for each other.”

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