Ear we go. Warren Gatland insists Wales have had a decent autumn. Pic: Getty Images.

The Autumn Series Is Over And Warren Gatland Has His Say

Wales 24, South Africa 22

 

The Warren Gatland verdict

 

What’s the overwhelming emotion at the end of that one?

 

“I suppose a bit of relief I think. We started so well and looked comfortable and then five minutes before half time and five minutes after half time weren’t the best periods of the game for us.

“I think we deserved the win and we are pleased with lots of things especially given the injuries that we had and young players that we blooded and the way we are trying to be positive.

“There’s lots of things we can take out of this campaign in terms of developing some strength in depth in the squad. It was pretty nail biting but that’s what sports about, that’s what test match rugby’s about.

“I’m pleased that we’ve come out on the right side.”

 

Are you angry that you nearly lost that game?

 

“It’s difficult. We didn’t get a penalty until there was 58 minutes on the clock so that was pretty frustrating from our point of view seeing the way we were getting picked up on things by the TMO.

“We were seeing things on the video ourselves that could easily have resulted in two or three penalties in our favour. That’s a big part of the game because if you aren’t going to get a penalty until 58 minutes it’s hard to continue to do things.”

 

Did you think the penalty count was unfair?

 

“No I’m just saying it’s tough from a momentum point of view. You are looking out there and we haven’t got a penalty in the first half and you are playing at home you normally expect to get a few awarded to you.

“That just helps getting you on the front foot and playing a bit of territory where we would have taken three points. I think we had two penalties in the game.

“But the way we started going 21-3 up and out of nowhere they scored a try before half time to go 21-10 and then they scored after half time turning the game into an arm wrestle. But that’s what test match rugby is all about.”

 

 

What have you learnt about fringe players?

 

“I was pleased in particular with some of the guys who came off the bench. Someone like Scott Andrews can’t even making his regional team so to go anf play 80 minutes against South Africa you’ve got to be very happy with that and the way that he’s worked this week.

“I thought Elliott Dee was great as was Wyn Jones coming off the bench and Rhys Webb and Rhys Patchell. We’ve got some options now and some depth which is what we are looking for.

“Someone like Cory Hill in terms of his lineouts and calling he would have learnt from that experience. The experienced guys understand the massive step up from regional rugby to international rugby and those other guys who are experiencing it for the second, third or fourth time they’ll learn and hopefully get better from that and go away and keep working hard.

“When they come back into the squad hopefully they will have improved as players as well.”

 

How did you think Hadleigh Parkes went?

 

“He did ok. I told him to make the most of his opportunity and he did that, he’s carried well and defended well.

“He’s an experienced player and we knew that and even though it was his first cap I said to him you need to get some leadership out there in terms of your voice and taking control. He’s had a lot of rugby under his belt and he’s familiar with a lot of those Scarlets players that were out there.

“Seven of them (scarlets) started today. He’s done great and it was a fantastic pick up for his first try and obviously a brilliant pass from Taulupe Faletau for his second one. He’s done well and he’s carried well and there were a couple of nice little kicks through.

“He’s 100% he was saying in the changing room so he’s pretty happy with himself.”

 

Was the cross kick a tactical ploy?

 

“It was something we worked on in terms of an opportunity and mixing things up as well. We’ve kept a lot of ball in hand during this campaign and it was just about us being a bit smarter this campaign so there was an option for the cross kick.

“We were talking about trying to manipulate the wingers from an attacking perspective and the second one with a little chip across over the top. We got some pretty reasonable success when we competed in the air as well.

“At this level you’ve got to make sure you mix it up because you can’t just keep playing and playing and playing because teams get front line and you end up blowing up your own backside. You’ve just got to turn teams around every now and again and keep that variation and I thought we did that very well from the start.”

 

How many changes will carry through to the Six Nations?

 

“Those are the sorts of things we are talking about. I think we’ve got to play certain teams a certain way and that’s what we’ve done.

“We changed things up and continued to work on that. We are probably at the stage now of mixing and matching a little bit because we played a little bit differently against Georgia and you’d play differently against France than you would against some of the other Six Nations sides.

“We feel like we’re in a good place and we’ve learnt a lot in terms of the style and the different ways that we’re trying to play. Good sides are able to do that and have that ability to pick different players to match the way we want to do that.

“We are a little limited in this campaign with the amount of injuries that we picked up but I was pleased for a lot of those youngsters out there today. Elliott Dee came on and did really well and Wyn Jones was great when he came on.

“Rob Evans was carrying an injury all week and we didn’t select Ken Owens because he had a back problem. Cory Hill and Josh Navidi had good campaigns.

“We gave another 9 an opportunity and another 12, plus there’s 2 young wingers who are still learning. We can take a huge amount of positives out of that going forward. Given the amount if injuries we’ve had.

“Our whole focus isn’t just the short term and trying to get performances and results but also the World Cup in Japan in 2019.”

 

Any room for experimenting in the Six Nations?

 

“We haven’t even talked about the 6 nations. We’ll do a review on Tuesday with the coaches in terms of the campaign and then start looking at the 6 nations and planning for that.

“The 6 nations is a competition so you want to go out there and do your best. I think this coming 6 nations looking at where all the teams are is probably going to be the closest 6 nations we’ve had for a long time.

From our point of view people are talking about other teams and long may that continue.

 

Where do Wales stand in comparison to other home nations?

 

“Given where we stand in relation to injuries and all the young players that we’ve put out I think we are in a good place at the moment. We went out there and said we are working on the way that we wanted to play and look to some different combinations.

“I am pleased with where we are. We didn’t pick some player sin the squad who we could have picked because we know where we are. The whole thing was about developing some depth for the future.

“We will look to see who is available and get some players back from injury to strengthen the squad for the six nations.

 

Alun Wyn Jones

 

How’s your head and how do you look back on the month?

 

“The heads fine. It’s been a decent month.

“It’s pleasing that we’ve finished on a high. We’ve got two from four but we probably would have liked a minimum of three wins but we can take heart from the positives out of the first half against New Zealand and the second half against Australia.

“We recovered from a second half repost from South Africa when they came out of the tunnel for the second half which we didn’t do against New Zealand. To see the character with the amount of changes.

“For ourselves this week it was constantly about positivitiy and being positive on the back foot and not giving penalties away, being comfortable in defence and obviously doing the positive aspects going forward.

We tried to have that whether it was keeping ball in hand or not having the ball. It’s comfortable being out there when people have that mentality. We finished with a win and there’s domestic rugby to go and we will come back in where there’s points at stake for wins and losses.

“We go back to our domestic enclaves and hopefully get an opportunity with the red jersey in the Six Nations.”

 

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