We desperately want to win – Warren Gatland keen to end Wales’ losing streak

By Sports Desk March 08, 2024

Warren Gatland has underlined Wales’ desperation to end their losing Six Nations run this season and claim what would be a statement victory over France.

Even though Les Bleus have produced nowhere near their standards of last year, highlighted by a comprehensive defeat against Ireland and home draw with Italy, they have claimed four successive Six Nations wins at Wales’ expense.

Despite several promising moments in defeats to Scotland, England and Ireland, new-look Wales are nil from three heading into Sunday’s Principality Stadium clash.

They have not lost all five games of a Six Nations campaign since 2003, with Italy – conquerors of Wales in Cardiff two years ago – arriving next weekend.

Wales’ recent overall Six Nations record is poor, having claimed just two victories from the last 14 starts, beating Scotland in 2022 and Italy last season.

“We need to win, and that is what Test match rugby is all about,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“We desperately want to win. We feel we have been going OK and we want to try and put a complete performance together.

“We know we are on a journey, but we are trying to fast-track things as quickly as possible. A win on Sunday would be a good stepping stone for that.

“Whether they (France) come here to throw the ball around or play an off-loading game, or whether they go for being a bit more brutal upfront and play for territory, we have just got to make sure we are prepared for anything.

“We are desperate to get that win. We know we are not quite there and there is a lot of work to do, but we have put ourselves in games and put teams under pressure.

“They (France) have got a huge pack, but that is the challenge for us, it is about moving their pack around. We saw what happened to them against Italy, that they do tire and that creates opportunities.”

Wales were edged out by a point against Scotland, then two points at England’s hands, and captain Dafydd Jenkins added: “Obviously, we are extremely disappointed to lose games, especially with the tight ones.

“But in terms of staying composed, I think we have built game on game and I feel like we’ve got better.

“We are looking at the quality in the room we have, and we should be winning games, so that is really what we are striving for.”

Gatland’s main selection talking point has been a new centre combination of Joe Roberts, who makes his first Six Nations start, and Owen Watkin.

George North, Wales’ most experienced Six Nations squad member with 120 caps, and Saracens’ Nick Tompkins were the midfield pairing during the World Cup and in two Six Nations games this term.

Gatland said: “We just wanted to give Joe an opportunity. He is a left-foot (kicking) option as well, and he has been training well.

“I thought they (North and Tompkins) were outstanding during the World Cup. Again, it is a chance for us to look at a few other players.

“George and I have had some honest discussions about whether he gets through to the next World Cup (in 2027). He started at a very young age, I think at 18 he was playing for Wales.

“Part of our discussions were about how we manage him, how do we look after him going forward?

“We’ve just got to make sure we have got some depth in that 13 position. That is why Joe gets an opportunity.

“I must say how the two boys (North and Tompkins) have responded after the disappointment of being left out this week. They has been fantastic in the way they have trained and helped the team.”

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