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Warburton hails 'brilliant' Gatland for transforming Welsh rugby

Gatland has won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

WARREN GATLAND HAS changed the mentality within Welsh rugby so they now go into tournaments as favourites instead of underdogs, says former Wales skipper Sam Warburton.

Gatland has won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup since taking charge in 2007.

They stand on the verge of another Six Nations Grand Slam this weekend, Gatland’s side needing to beat Ireland in Cardiff to complete the job.

And Wales’ transformation into a dominant force is all down to the impact of Gatland – who will leave his role after this year’s World Cup in Japan – according to Warburton.

“He has changed the perception of the Welsh public from being underdogs, which they were used to in the 1990s and 2000s,” said Warburton.

“It is normal now to expect to win a Six Nations campaign year in, year out. He has changed the psychology of the Welsh team and public. That underdog status has pretty much gone now. You do not want to be the underdog.

“You work hard to be the top dog, and he has got the boys and the public in that state of mind. They expect so much of the Welsh team, and that is down to Warren.

RBS 6 Nations Media Launch - The Hurlingham Club Warburton and Gatland pictured before the 2016 Six Nations. Source: John Walton

“Behind closed doors, in my experience, Warren always says how good we are. When he says you are going to do something, nine times out of 10 it happens.

“He oozes confidence, and the players feed off it and believe exactly what he says. His coaching methods are brilliant anyway, and what he says carries a massive amount of weight among the playing group.”

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Warburton is confident Gatland can finish on a high in Japan later this year.

“I still think he has more to do,” added the former Wales captain. “He knows that. I still think we will see him achieving big things after this World Cup.

“You get vibes of what a coach might do, but I do not know whether he will go back into the international scene, the Lions or go back to New Zealand. He might enjoy a bit of time off initially, but I think his coaching journey will definitely continue.”

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