Wales will do

Wales rugby squad at Swiss training camp
Warren Gatland began his second spell as head coach of Wales in December 2022

Wales head coach Warren Gatland says his side will do something special at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Wales begin their preparation with a warm-up game against England on Saturday at the Principality Stadium before the tournament opener against Fiji on 10 September.

Wales only finished fifth in the Six Nations with one win.

“This group is in a good place and I promise you now we will surprise a few people at the World Cup,” said Gatland.

“I am excited and I am telling you now that this team will do something special. I love Wales being written off and people can keep doing that because it just makes us stronger.”

Gatland returned for his second stint as Wales head coach when he replaced Wayne Pivac in December 2022.

Wales only managed to defeat Italy during the Six Nations and have slipped to ninth in the world rankings.

There were off-the-field controversies during the tournament with the players threatening to strike ahead of the home game against England because of contractual issues before that threat was averted.

Wales have lost Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb to international retirement, while Six Nations captain Ken Owens will miss at least the World Cup pool stages because of a back injury.

Gatland has selected a host of young players and managed to spend two months with the squad and has held punishing training trips in Switzerland before their three World Cup warm-up games.

It will be his fourth World Cup in charge of Wales having achieved semi-finals in 2011 and 2019 and the quarter-finals in 2015.

“Looking back at the Six Nations and all the things were going on I thought I needed to let all the things going on unfold,” said Gatland.

“I couldn’t be as direct or demanding as I would normally be but things have settled down now with a lot of new players coming in.

“Myself and the other coaches and the leadership group now feel more accountable for the way we are doing things and it is brilliant the way they have all been demanding standards.”

After the weekend’s England game, Gatland’s side face a return visit to Twickenham on 12 August.

Wales complete their preparations against world champions South Africa on 19 August before Gatland is scheduled to name his final 33-man squad the following week.

Wales open their pool campaign against Fiji in Bordeaux before further group games against Portugal, Australia and Georgia.

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