Wales can win the Six Nations with youth – Gatland

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Written By BBC News

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Warren Gatland walking
Warren Gatland prepares for his 17th Six Nations tournament, more than any other coach

Warren Gatland has warned the rest of the Six Nations to rule out Wales “at their own peril” and believes his youngsters are good enough to win the title.

Wales have finished fifth in the last two years and have won just two of their last 11 games in the Championship.

And head coach Gatland has been forced to choose one of the youngest squads of his career after retirements, transfers and injuries to key players.

However, he stated: “We can win this tournament without a doubt.”

Speaking at the launch of the competition in Dublin, Gatland added: “This is my 17th appearance in the Six Nations so I’ve been around for a while and we’ve seen in the past how this tournament is all about momentum.

“It’s a great first game for us at home against Scotland. If we win, we can go to Twickenham without fear, with England in a similar position to us making changes.

“The third game is against Ireland in Dublin, with potentially a Triple Crown on the line and everything on the line.”

Gatland, 60, is the tournament’s most experienced coach, having started with Ireland before overseeing four titles, the last in 2019, during his first spell with Wales.

But while his return for a second spell failed to lift Wales last season, he arguably faces a tougher task this season given the lack of available players.

From his World Cup squad, injuries have deprived him of Jac Morgan, Taulupe Faletau and Dewi Lake, the likes of Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit are unavailable due to their move away from Welsh rugby, while players such as Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny have retired.

It means Dafydd Jenkins will become the youngest Wales captain since Gareth Edwards in 1968.

But Gatland insists there are positives behind the new generation of players emerging at regional level as domestic football faces drastic budget cuts.

“Despite the doom and gloom, I’m excited about the young people we’re coming out with and what we can potentially achieve,” he said on the Scrum V podcast.

“We have five new call-ups and eight who have never experienced the Six Nations, but I see this as a period of real opportunity, for all of Welsh rugby, to reset.

“These youngsters have benefited hugely from being exposed over the last few months and the national team will benefit from it.

“It’s always been the case with Wales, that you rule us out at your own risk. If you do that, you could be caught with your pants down.

“We will work hard and be organized for that first match and if you win it then confidence and belief in yourself means you can do well in this tournament.”

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