Player welfare is important - Gatland

2015-09-29 16:50
Warren Gatland (Gallo)

Cardiff - Wales coach Warren Gatland Tuesday questioned the short match turnarounds in the World Cup as he prepared his battered and bruised side to play Fiji on Thursday.

"It's something we all need to be aware of because it's a pretty brutal game at the moment and it's important that we consider and look after the welfare of our players too," he said.

"I don't know whether four or five day turnarounds in a World Cup are too short."

Wales play Fiji just five days after a sensational victory over England that was marred by injuries.

Scott Williams and Hallam Amos have been forced out of the tournament while Liam Williams was concussed and could not be considered for the next game.

Wales have lost six players since naming their initial World Cup squad, twice as many as any other team, and Gatland has been forced to select players who could do with a break.

"We've got guys who are still battered and bruised and we've got a game in two days," he said when making only three injury-forced changes from the side that came from behind to beat England 28-25.

Gatland kept the same Sam Warburton-led pack that won their first two matches against Uruguay and England while backs George North, Jamie Roberts, Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies will also be starting their third consecutive game.

Matthew Morgan gets his first start at fullback and Tyler Morgan makes his World Cup debut at centre while Alex Cuthbert, a replacement against England, starts on the wing.

But while New Zealand-born coach said Wales could not complain about their tournament schedule as they have known the draw for a long time and "our planning over the last couple of years has been about preparing for the short turnarounds."

The twice British and Irish Lions coach said the growing brutal nature of Test rugby was evident to him.

"The only gauge I have as a coach is my involvement with the Lions in 2009 and 2013 and just seeing the difference and physicality in that four years," he said.

"You go to South Africa which is one of the most physical countries to go and play in, and then from South Africa to Australia the step up in intensity and physicality had just increased massively in four years."

However, Gatland said he could not dwell on the injuries and Wales' focus was on preparing to play Fiji on Thursday then an eight day break before playing Australia

"The chat's been about making sure we're mentally right and that's the key. We have to put Saturday behind and know it's incredibly important to get a result on Thursday. If we can do that it puts us a little bit more in the box seat."

Australia, the only other unbeaten team in Pool A after wins over Fiji and Uruguay, play England this Saturday before their final first round encounter with Wales.

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