Opener has no World Cup impact

Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Warren Gatland does not believe that this season’s blockbusting RBS 6 Nations opener between Wales and England will hold major World Cup relevance.

The countries clash in Cardiff on February 6 – and then meet again in late September at Twickenham as World Cup pool rivals.

England, meanwhile, are preparing for a first Millennium Stadium visit since seeing their Six Nations title and Grand Slam hopes torn to shreds by Wales in record-breaking 30-3 fashion two years ago.

“I don’t think it is going to have a reflection on that World Cup result,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“The team that wins it will probably go in thinking they are on the right path, and it sometimes gives the team that loses the opportunity to change direction and work on a few other things.

“If you look back at the last two World Cups, the team that won the Tri-Nations didn’t win the World Cup.

“It’s more of a confidence boost and good for the fans, but for us it’s about the bigger picture.

“It would be nice to get the win, but we are very much looking ahead to the World Cup, and there is a debate and discussion among the coaches about how much we show.

“You don’t want to show your hand completely, but it’s important you go out there and play well and win at home.

“We are lucky in terms of we know where our selection is, while England are still debating which way they are going, particularly at 10 and midfield, and that will determine the type of game they play at the World Cup.

“They are not 100 per cent sure because they have so much strength in depth. It’s whether they play a nine or 10-man game, or more expansively.”

Looking ahead to the Six Nations, Gatland added: ” It’s going to be a really tough Six Nations.

“Win that first game (against England), and you get confidence and we go away to Scotland, win that and you can win the tournament. Lose that first game, and then all of a sudden the game in Edinburgh is looking really tough as well.

“But the long-term goal is working towards the World Cup.

“We learnt a lot from the autumn in terms of how teams played against us, particularly the kicking game of the All Blacks. Teams are probably going to come and kick the leather off the ball against us.

“I am interested to see if they (England) have the roof open or closed, because the atmosphere was pretty electric last time (the roof was closed).

“They may try to dampen that down. I hope they do want to close it and are prepared to accept the challenge, but we will wait and see.”

For the Millennium Stadium roof to be closed, both teams have to agree. If they do not, then it remains open.

Gatland, meanwhile, has revealed that Wales wing Alex Cuthbert has turned down the offer of a national dual contract.

Seven players have so far agreed terms on contracts funded 60 per cent by the Welsh Rugby Union and 40 per cent by a player’s region

“Alex has decided not to take a dual contract,” Gatland added. “He has another year left on his Cardiff Blues deal.

“We offered him a contract and he turned it down for his own reasons.

“There is no pressure on players to take dual contracts. It’s offered to them, and if they don’t want to accept one then it offers the opportunity up to somebody else.

“It won’t affect selection, but there is an obvious advantage to players in terms of the number of games that they play for their regions.”

Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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