Gatland has no concerns over Welsh players' mentality ahead of huge England clash

Gatland has no concerns over Welsh players' mentality ahead of huge England clash
Warren Gatland hasn't had the best start back in charge of Wales
Warren Gatland hasn't had the best start back in charge of Wales
Wales' players have returned to training full of fight and eager to reverse their recent poor run after a torrid week according to coach Warren Gatland (59) as they prepare to face England in the Six Nations in Cardiff on Saturday.

It has been a difficult few days for all involved in Welsh rugby, not least the players, who contemplated a strike over contract disputes with the Professional Rugby Board, which runs the professional game in the country, before an 11th-hour agreement to play was reached.

"I’m just happy things have been sorted," Gatland told reporters on Thursday. "The guys are good this morning. We had a meeting to announce the team and it was an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and move forward."

Gatland has made nine changes to the Wales side that lost 35-7 last time out away to Scotland, including recalls for number eight Taulupe Faletau, loose-forward Justin Tipuric, lock Alun Wyn Jones and fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

"In fairness to the guys, they’ve trained the house down. They deserve their spots, then there’s some youngsters who will benefit."

One of those youngsters is centre Mason Grady, who earns a first cap alongside fellow rookie Joe Hawkins in the midfield.

"We’ve been impressed by him (Grady). He’s young and quick, brings some physicality. His biggest work-on is being more vocal, but he’s got some fantastic attributes. It’s a great opportunity for him."

The selection of Owen Williams at flyhalf ahead of Dan Biggar is to try and create more depth.

"We spoke about players being given opportunities. It’s a position we’re lacking in depth in back-up to Dan. In terms of the future, it’s important. Gareth Anscombe has had injuries in the last few years," Gatland said.

England have had a mixed start to their campaign under new coach Steve Borthwick and Gatland believes both teams will feel the pressure. England are third in the table after a win and a loss, while Wales are bottom following two defeats.

"I see them as a little bit like us, going through a rebuilding phase with a new coach. Steve is trying to find his feet.

"It’s a massive game for both of us. We win and then we can finish on a high."

England have asked for the Principality Stadium roof to be open. Gatland admitted he wanted it closed but said it may count in his side’s favour in the end.

"They’ve asked for the roof to be open so it’s open. We’d have preferred for it to be closed so that dampens things down a little.

"The irony is we’re better with it open in terms of win record so they might not have done their homework."

Follow all the action from the clash between Wales and England on Flashscore.


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