No divided loyalties for Gatland

2014-11-19 10:51
Warren Gatland (AFP)

Cardiff - Native New Zealander turned Wales coach Warren Gatland said on Tuesday no-one would be prouder if his side ended their 61-year losing streak against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"I've said before I am a proud New Zealander and follow closely what's happening there with other sports," said Gatland, born in Hamilton and a hooker for Waikato who played in several non-international matches fot the All Blacks without winning a Test cap.

"If the All Blacks are playing someone else I'm cheering for them, but there is no-one more desperate to win at the weekend than me. I am totally focused on my role here and my dedication to Wales is 100 percent," former Ireland coach Gatland added.

Once reigning world champions New Zealand's fiercest European rivals, Wales haven't beaten the All Blacks since a 13-8 success in Cardiff back in 1953.

Wales have lost 25 successive Tests to Gatland's compatriots, while it is six years since they beat any one of New Zealand, South Africa or Australia, with a 21-18 win over the Wallabies in Cardiff.

Questioned about any lingering divided loyalties, the 51-year-old Gatland, who also coached the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia last year, said: "My family get asked that question a lot and my mother-in-law was asked who she would be supporting at the weekend. She said Wales because family come first.

"I've got a lot of friends and mates who want me to do well, so there's a lot of support for me from the people I know back in New Zealand.

"They (All Blacks) continue to put winning sequences together. They have that belief they are good enough to win in any situation and handle the threat of the opposition. That's what makes them the best team in the world.

"There is a lot of pressure on their players to perform and they know the expectation of the nation is on them."

And fit-again Wales centre Jonathan Davies was in no doubt about the task confronting the team on Saturday after a largely second-string New Zealand still had enough about them to beat Scotland 24-16 at Edinburgh's Murrayfield last Saturday.

"They (New Zealand) have put England away and after making 13 changes still had the strength in depth to beat Scotland," said Davies. "They're the best team in the world, very comfortable on the ball and very intelligent.

"They play in the right areas, they retain the ball really well and, once they get it, they keep it. It's down to us this week that when we get it, we keep it for a long period of time and starve them of possession."

Read more on:    warren gatland  |  rugby

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