Rugby World Cup: Warren Gatland backs Wales to reach final ahead of Group C clash against Portugal | Rugby Union News

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Wales’ Rugby World Cup coach Warren Gatland says his side are capable of reaching the final in Paris after winning their opening match over Fiji. Wales will play Portugal on Saturday, September 16, before facing Australia on Sunday, September 24

Last updated: 09/14/23 at 3:24 pm

Wales vs England - Summer Nations Series - Principality Stadium Wales coach Warren Gatland before the Summer Nations Series match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.  Photo date: Saturday, August 5, 2023.

Wales vs England – Summer Nations Series – Principality Stadium Wales coach Warren Gatland before the Summer Nations Series match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Photo date: Saturday, August 5, 2023.

Warren Gatland has stressed Wales’ desire to achieve a better result than in three previous Rugby World Cup campaigns and reach the final.

They reached the semi-finals in 1987, then twice under Gatland – 2011 and 2019 – and exited at that stage on each occasion.

A bonus-point win over Group C rivals Fiji last weekend put Wales ahead, and if they repeat that feat against Portugal on Saturday, it will boost their quarter-final ambitions.

Australia and Georgia are still waiting before a potential quarter-final date with England or Argentina in Marseille next month.

Sky Sports' James Cole reports on the latest on Wales' Rugby World Cup camp Warren Gatland names his squad ahead of their match against Portugal, making 13 changes following their win over Fiji.

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Sky Sports’ James Cole reports on the latest on Wales’ Rugby World Cup camp Warren Gatland names his squad ahead of their match against Portugal, making 13 changes following their win over Fiji.

Sky Sports’ James Cole reports on the latest on Wales’ Rugby World Cup camp Warren Gatland names his squad ahead of their match against Portugal, making 13 changes following their win over Fiji.

Wales coach Gatland said: “We have always been confident in the past about the World Cup finals and the opportunity to bring the team together for a long time.”

“We believe we performed well in the previous World Cup finals and we would like to reach the World Cup final.

I said before, don’t count us out and that this team is capable of doing something special, and I still believe in that.

“Part of the key themes and message going into the World Cup was to make sure we are a difficult team to beat, and if we are a difficult team to beat, things can happen to you.

James Savondra reports from Bordeaux as Wales held on for their first win of the 2023 World Cup over Fiji.

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James Savondra reports from Bordeaux as Wales held on for their first win of the 2023 World Cup over Fiji.

James Savondra reports from Bordeaux as Wales held on for their first win of the 2023 World Cup over Fiji.

“The first priority is to be a team that is difficult to beat, and if we do that and do things right and prepare well and don’t get too many injuries, there’s no reason why we can’t continue.” “To go a long way in this tournament, that’s the plan.”

Portugal are next in line, with Gatland making 13 changes to the squad that started the match against Fiji, retaining only winger Luis Reis-Zammit and No.8 Taulupe Faletau.

The two teams have met only once before – a World Cup qualifier in Lisbon 29 years ago that Wales won 102-11 – with Portugal making its first appearance in the pool stage of the tournament since 2007.

“From his previous experience with Tullupi, he is a player who gets better with more play,” added Gatland.

“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby, he hasn’t played any warm-up games, so it’s just supporting him.

“With Lewis, it’s the same. He’s been fantastic the last five or six weeks, and I just want to keep him playing as well.

Excerpts from the third day of the Rugby World Cup in France, where defending champions South Africa, Japan and Wales recorded victories.  Credit: RWCL

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Excerpts from the third day of the Rugby World Cup in France, where defending champions South Africa, Japan and Wales recorded victories. Credit: RWCL

Excerpts from the third day of the Rugby World Cup in France, where defending champions South Africa, Japan and Wales recorded victories. Credit: RWCL

“They (Portugal) are a similar version of Fiji. They play a lot of rugby, they have some exciting players, they like to move the ball, so we are prepared almost the same way as us.” Against Fiji.

“I thought from a neutral position last week that if you were watching the games, it (Wales v Fiji) was probably the most exciting game of the weekend in terms of rugby played.

“It wasn’t great to have the coach sitting in the box for the last 10 minutes, I can promise you that, but hopefully we can put on another great game of rugby.”

Fiji nearly erased an 18-point deficit during a thrilling final quarter in Bordeaux, while midfielder Simi Radradra failed to collect on a pass in the closing seconds that might have prompted the game-winning goal.

George North gets mobbed after scoring.

George North gets mobbed after scoring.

However, Wales held on in nerve-wracking fashion to achieve a win that made them in many quarters favorites to win their group.

“We were happy with the win, happy with the preparation, everything was going great for 60 minutes with the result.

“Like in Fiji, they have been under attack and have come back to us strongly recently,” Gatland said.

He added: “That match is over and dealt with. We are past it now and the focus is on Portugal. Hopefully we will do well on Saturday and then move on to Australia next week.”

“It’s a great opportunity for the players on Saturday to stake their claim and if someone goes out there and puts in a great performance, they’re definitely in contention.”



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