Six Nations 2014: Cheeky Warren Gatland plays mind games with Stuart Lancaster's 'boys'
The Wales coach believes a win at Twickenham would put doubts in England minds
Wednesday 05 March 2014
It would not be England versus Wales without a barbed comment from Warren Gatland, who came as close as possible to beckoning Sunday's hosts with a "come-and-have-a-go" challenge.
The mischievous New Zealander has previously singled out Paul Sackey and Dylan Hartley with his mind games before encounters.
This time it was any Englishman who was part of the capitulation in Cardiff 12 months ago with the threat that Wales will test just how much Stuart Lancaster's side have "grown" from that 30-3 hammering.
"England say they have learned harsh lessons from last year and all the talk is that these boys have turned into men. I guess time will tell on Sunday," said Gatland.
Last year, British Lions places were also on the line, as well as a Grand Slam. This weekend, the Wales coach believes, will see the victors land a telling blow before the mother of all derbies, in the 2015 World Cup.
"It's a big game psychologically for both teams. It's the last time we go to Twickenham before next year, which will be an even bigger game than Sunday," said Gatland. "If we win this week, then it's four in a row against England and that will have an effect. A few doubts will creep in for them.
"It's a long way off and both teams will be far stronger then, but the fact that we have had success there helps. In terms of age profile and total number of caps, which could be around 1,000, our team will be coming into their peak. That's something for us to get excited about."
There was even a shot from Gatland at the bookmakers, who make England favourites against the reigning Six Nations champions on Sunday, despite recent history.
"I'm not sure who has won the last three games between us… I think it was us," he said.
"In the past, going to Twickenham was a step too far for Wales players and before this group it was 20 years that Wales hadn't won there. But as Adam Jones said, we have no fear."
Rhys Webb retains the No 9 jersey ahead of Mike Phillips though Jonathan Davies and Alun Wyn Jones return to take Wales' tally of Lions to a dozen. England are likely to include just two.
Asked whether more Englishman would make his selection on current form, Gatland quipped: "There would be more Irish now."
He added: "England are improving and have dangerous runners like Mike Brown, who has probably been the player of the tournament so far. But they're missing key players like Dan Cole, Alex Corbisiero and Geoff Parling, and also Manu Tuilagi, if he doesn't start. When those guys are back, they will be very strong."
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