Rugby World Cup: Warren Gatland happy to dole out harsh lessons to stoke Welsh pride

Ross McLean
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Gatland said he has been critical of his players ahead of Wales' clash with South Africa (Source: Getty)

Wales coach Warren Gatland insists that subjecting his players to a brutal review of their failings against Australia will stoke their desire to overpower South Africa in Saturday’s quarter-final.

Two-time world champions South Africa will start as favourites against an injury-ravaged Wales, with a showdown with either New Zealand or France the prize on offer for the victors.

Australia heroically repelled repeated Welsh attacks in last Saturday’s Pool A to win 15-6 despite having two men in the sin-bin for seven second-half minutes, and Gatland was unwilling to pull any punches.

“We’ve been pretty critical of the players – Toby Faletau losing ball in contact, Dan Biggar screaming for it with a three on one overlap,” said Gatland.

“We’ve been really hard on the players in terms of making the right decisions at this level. You must be able to make decisions under pressure and we didn’t do that on Saturday.

“The players’ reaction was fantastic. We keep saying to them that being critical is about making them better players. We don’t want to make excuses.”

Gatland has opted for twice-capped Tyler Morgan, who was called into the squad last month as replacement for the injured Cory Allen, ahead of the experienced James Hook at outside centre.

The 20-year-old will partner Jamie Roberts in Wales’ midfield, as George North reverts to the wing, despite Hook being 10 years his senior and having 80 caps to his name.

“Picking Morgan wasn’t tough at all. Tyler had a bit of a tight hamstring last week so wasn’t in contention,” added Gatland.

“Our squad selection has been 100 per cent consistent. We thought Tyler played exceptionally well against Fiji for a young player and he’s an out and out 13.

“He’s definitely a player for the future and this is a great opportunity for him. I can’t see where the debate is on that selection.”

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