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Rugby: Wales want 'incredible' Gatland to end on a World Cup high

Rugby: Wales want 'incredible' Gatland to end on a World Cup high

Wales coach Warren Gatland is stepping down after the World Cup. (Photo: AFP/Gabriel BOUYS)

BEPPU, Japan: Neil Jenkins said Wales owe it to departing head coach Warren Gatland to "give ourselves another fortnight in Japan" ahead of this weekend's World Cup quarter-final against France.

Gatland is standing down after this tournament, meaning a defeat in Oita on Sunday (Oct 20) would spell the end of the New Zealander's 12-year reign in charge of Wales.

During that time, the Welsh have won three Grand Slams in the Six Nations and been both semi-finalists (2011) and quarter-finalists (2015) at the World Cup.

Former Wales star Jenkins has been involved throughout as an assistant coach, with the goalkicking ace in no doubt of two-time British and Irish Lions boss Gatland's impact.

"His record speaks for itself as in the results, the success, the togetherness of the (Wales) team and the squad and the staff," Jenkins told reporters in Beppu, near Oita, on Wednesday.

"'Gats' is not just an incredible rugby coach, he is an incredible person as well.

"He brings so much to this environment, it's unbelievable, really.

"It would be incredibly sad to see him go, obviously. It would be nice if we could give ourselves another fortnight in Japan for him and for everyone involved."

Jenkins added that one of former Ireland and Wasps coach Gatland's qualities was an ability to treat each match in similar fashion regardless of the occasion.

"'Gats' is the same, no matter who we are playing, week to week. It is probably us he has to calm down and the rest of the coaches," said Jenkins.

"He is an incredibly smart rugby man and knows the game inside out, and we will be prepared for Sunday.

"He's been here for 12 years, and whatever he does, everyone looks up to him and understands why he does it."

Wales could well be at full strength for this weekend's crunch clash given powerhouse wing George North, centre Jonathan Davies and fly-half Dan Biggar all appear to be winning their respective fitness battles.

"Everyone is getting there," said Jenkins.

Wales suffered a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to France in a World Cup semi-final eight years ago, when then captain Sam Warburton was sent off, and Jenkins reckoned no one in the current squad needed a reminder of what was at stake this weekend.

"You either turn up or you are going home," he said.

"Last time we played them in a World Cup in 2011 they turned us over in a semi-final in a very tight game."

"It will be a very tough game on Sunday," Jenkins added: "It's why you play rugby to play these type of games.

Source: AFP/nh


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