Five-Star Warren Gatland Makes It Four Out Of Four With Wales

Four games, four wins and now a chance to make the last four if they can beat Argentina.

Every four years, Warren Gatland seems to get it right with Wales and now he’s done it again at this Rugby World Cup.

The weekend victory over Georgia confirmed top place in Pool C and a quarter-final meeting with Argentina on Saturday, but the price paid was the end of the tournament for Taulupe Faletau with a broken arm.

Gatland has called up scrum-half Kieran Hardy to replace Faletau and explained: “We feel we have a number of options in the back row at the moment, so we’ve decided to call up Kieran to give us extra cover at scrum-half and to take some pressure off from a training perspective.”

Hardy was left out of Wales’ initial World Cup squad after Gatland opted to select only two scrum-halves in Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams.

Louis Rees-Zammit scored a hat-trick of tries against the Georgians in the 43-19 win and says he’s now fitter than ever, having been gently provoked by Gatland.

“I am definitely a quicker player now. I am a lot fitter as well, which means I can repeat these things,” said Rees-Zammit.

“I know Gats (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) has spoken about my training schedule.

“I haven’t missed training for a couple of months now, which is great. I am buzzing with the way I am playing at the minute – I am trying to do everything I can to help the team.”

It was another exhibition of the 22-year-old’s dazzling finishing skills and why he is among the biggest box-office attractions in world rugby.

“It (World Cup leading try-scorer) is something that is in the back of my head, but getting the wins is all that matters,” he said.

Wales assistant coach and attack specialist Alex King fully acknowledges Rees-Zammit’s value ahead of a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final appearance.

Rees-Zammit was the only Wales back to start all four group games and he scored tries in three of those against Fiji, Portugal and Georgia.

King said: “We are lucky to have a player like Louis. It’s great for rugby to have these kind of stars with finishing power like that.

“He is a fantastic athlete; he is quick and his game has really come on in the last 12 months.

“It’s his mindset, his attitude, his professionalism, everything you need to be a top player.

“He is still very young, he has got 30-odd caps for Wales, has been on a British and Irish Lions tour and just wants to get better and better.

“We want to get the ball to Louis, but it is not as simple as just giving him the ball. Defences are very good.

“His attitude has been first class. He wants to get better and better every day he turns up to work. He was great (against Georgia) and I am looking forward to Marseille next week.”

The quarter-finals have been confirmed with host nation France playing reigning and three-time champions South Africa and the world’s number-one-ranked side Ireland taking on three-time champions New Zealand at Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

At Stade de Marseille, Wales will play Argentina after Los Pumas’ crucial victory against Japan in Nantes.

At the same venue, Pool D winners England will play Fiji, who are set to compete in the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2007.


Saturday, 14 October


QF1: Wales v Argentina – Stade de Marseille

QF2: Ireland v New Zealand – Stade de France, Saint Denis


Sunday, 15 October

QF3: England v Fiji – Stade de Marseille

QF4: France v South Africa – Stade de France, Saint Denis