Rugby

Gatland: All Blacks not vulnerable

2017-11-21 14:54
Warren Gatland (Getty)

Cape Town - Ahead of his side's clash with the All Blacks on the weekend, Wales coach Warren Gatland believes New Zealand "still have that X-factor". 

The All Blacks are coming off the back off a narrow 22-17 win over Scotland in Edinburgh with many surprised that the Scots were in the game throughout. 

But Gatland, who led the British and Irish Lions to a 1-1 series draw with the All Blacks earlier this year, has refuted claims that their opponents are 'vulnerable'. 

"I've never seen an All Black team that's been vulnerable. The quality and depth they have, they would be hurting and disappointed they didn't play better [against Scotland]. In saying that, they coped with the pressure and won the game," Gatland told Stuff

"The All Blacks have commented themselves they have dominated the game for too long – and people want to see them come under pressure. I think that's good for rugby. We want to see those close contests where teams that perform on the day are able to push the No 1 team in the world really close." 

Gatland felt the All Blacks had been plagued of injuries recently which had affected their results but that this was part and parcel of the game and happened to so many sides. 

"They were pretty good against France but they'll be disappointed with Scotland," he added. "The Scots took it to them. But they still won the game and they had that X-factor when they needed to turn it on. 

"In fairness to Scotland they kept going. In the past they may have capitulated when they went behind and conceded some soft tries, but they kept playing. I was impressed." 

Gatland has the difficult task of juggling his side as he sweats on the fitness of Liam Williams (abdominal injury) and Justin Tipuric (thigh) available, and he says he feels his experience of leading the Lions in New Zealand will stand him in good for stead for facing them with Wales.

"It was challenging from a personal perspective but, Kiwis understand this, when you back someone into a corner we come out fighting," he said. "There is no way I was going to allow something to get the better of me. I got mentally tougher. I kind of felt like I was in a boxing match. 

"I enjoyed that challenge. I enjoyed thinking that no-one was going to get the better of me, or split the squad or create controversy. 

"There was some pretty underhand stuff going on. It was challenging. There are one or two people I would like to get into a corner of a room with me now. But that might wait for another day." 

Gatland and his men face an uphill battle; Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953. 

"You watch Scotland, and you take some positives out of that. But we can't expect that New Zealand aren't going to improve. This is their last game of the year, so we expect them to front up, hurting a little bit, knowing that they haven't played to their potential. 

"We've got to build from the second half against Australia and go and put the best team in the world under some pressure."

Read more on:    all blacks  |  wales  |  warren gatland  |  rugby
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