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Gatland looking to 'have some revenge' with the Lions in South Africa in 2021

The Wales boss was proud of his side’s effort in their World Cup semi-final defeat to the Springboks.

HE WOULD HAVE much preferred to finish with a World Cup final, but Warren Gatland’s time in charge of Wales will instead come to an end against his native New Zealand in Friday night’s bronze final in Tokyo.

Even this unenviable fixture offers Gatland the chance to do something he hasn’t done before with Wales – beat the All Blacks.

There was disappointment this evening in Yokohama as the Welsh lost to South Africa on a 19-16 scoreline in their World Cup semi-final, but Gatland took pride in how his team battled.

wales-v-south-africa-2019-rugby-world-cup-semi-final-international-stadium-yokohama Gatland was proud of Wales' effort in their semi-final defeat. Source: David Davies

They didn’t play much rugby in a dour contest against the muscular Boks but there was never anything less than the usual resilience and fighting spirit that has been a hallmark of Gatland’s 12-year tenure with the Welsh.

Shorn of key men through injury both before and during this World Cup, the Welsh will feel that a semi-final was a decent return. For Gatland, there is one more game before he departs home to New Zealand to start work as head coach of the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

Then Gatland has the 2021 Lions tour in South Africa to look forward to. In short, the 56-year-old has plenty of coaching miles left ahead of him.

Knocking off his native New Zealand on the way out next weekend would be a perfect parting gift.

“It’s a pretty big challenge and the All Blacks are probably hurting as much as we are,” said Gatland after his side’s defeat to South Africa.

“It’s a tough game to play in but you have to give it the respect it deserves and do the best you can to try to win it.

“For me, personally, my last game in charge being against the All Blacks will be hugely monumental. As a coach, apart from being with the Lions, it’s the team I haven’t beaten with Wales.

“It would be nice to be able to achieve that and then I’ve got some excitement ahead about the challenges going back to New Zealand with the Chiefs and then back to the Lions in 12 months or so and then try to have some revenge on tonight’s game against South Africa.

“Maybe in a couple of years with the Lions, we’ll be able to do that.”

rassie-erasmus-and-warren-gatland Gatland shakes hands with Boks boss Rassie Erasmus. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Gatland will bow out of Wales having guided them to three Grand Slams during his reign, while his CV also includes a Lions series success in Australia and a Lions series draw in New Zealand, as well as three Premiership titles and a Heineken Cup with Wasps, not to mention an NPC trophy with Waikato.

The Welsh have also been to two World Cup semi-finals with Gatland in charge, although defeats to France and now South Africa in the final four were disappointing for the Kiwi.

Gatland was pleased that his team had delivered 100% commitment against the Boks, who he congratulated and backed to cause England a few problems in the final.

“They have the physicality to match England,” said Gatland. “I thought England were outstanding last night but they have a very good chance.

“They might have to be a bit more expansive with the way they want to play. They had a pretty simple game plan tonight in terms of the scrums and box kicking from de Klerk and Pollard.

“It was very effective and for them; it was about making the final and doing whatever it took to do that.

“We have seen in previous World Cups that teams sometimes play their final in semi-finals and don’t always turn up for a final.

“So it will be interesting to see how England are next week and it can be a good game.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from International Stadium Yokohama

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