Wales have missed Warren Gatland, says Shaun Edwards

Gatland retakes the reins from caretaker boss Rob Howley for the final two matches

Shaun Edwards believes Warren Gatland's absence has hit Wales hard as the head coach returns to take charge following demoralising defeats to Argentina and Samoa.

Wales had entered the autumn window in bullish mood having won the Six Nations Grand Slam and pushed Australia all the way during their three-Test series Down Under.

But any optimism has quickly vanished after abject displays against the Pumas and Samoans, which saw Wales booed from the Millennium Stadium field.

Gatland was not in charge for those fixtures as he made preparations for his task of leading the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia next summer.

But the Kiwi retakes the reins from caretaker boss Rob Howley for the final two matches against New Zealand and Australia.

Few are giving Wales any hope of upsetting the world champion All Blacks, who arrive in Cardiff unbeaten in 19 Tests over the last 15 months.

But assistant coach Edwards believes Gatland's return to a coaching staff also comprising Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins, who was absent on Monday following the death of his father over the weekend, is just the stimulus Wales need ahead of Saturday's encounter.

Edwards said: "We haven't had a meeting as yet where Warren has had a chance to speak to the players but the five of us have been a good coaching team over the past five years.

"If the gaffer is missing then it's going to hit you hard and we are much better when there are five of us all together.

"I expect Warren to be his normal self. He gives us some words of wisdom there is no doubt about that, and as the build-up goes on to Saturday he will get more and more involved."

Wales have come in for heavy criticism following their autumn defeats, which extended their current losing sequence to five matches and puts them in grave danger of missing out on a top-eight seeding for next month's 2015 World Cup draw.

Former captain Gareth Thomas went as far as to suggest the defeat to Samoa was down to a "pure lack of effort".

But Edwards dismissed Thomas' comments.

He said: "If he can show me specifics of the game then I would look at it and decide, but I wouldn't agree with that.

"Personally I felt it was two teams that were pretty equally matched, as they were at the World Cup when we got the better of a one-score game, just like South Africa when they (Samoa) played them as the World Cup.

"On Friday Samoa were a little bit better than at the World Cup because they had the tighthead prop who plays for the champions of France (Toulouse forward Census Johnston) and they had the tighthead prop who plays for the champions of England (Harlequins' James Johnston).

"That's why they have improved while we have slightly come back a bit because of injuries.

"That's why they won a one-score game this time."

Wales have been cruelly hit by injuries during the autumn, with Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Turnbull all absentees.

Hooker Richard Hibbard is also unlikely to feature again during the series due to a shoulder injury, but Wales remain hopeful his Ospreys colleagues Dan Biggar (shoulder) and Ian Evans (knee) will play some part in the final two fixtures.

And there is good news in the form of centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Matthew Rees returning to training following their respective groin and calf complaints, with the pair set to be available for selection against the All Blacks.

Injuries aside, some of the blame for Wales' poor form has been laid at the door of the four professional regional teams, who collectively registered just one win from eight European games last month.

And Cardiff Blues' full-back Leigh Halfpenny admits the lack of a winning habit at regional level could be having an impact on the national side.

He said: "It maybe a factor. The Heineken Cup did not really go well for the regions, coming into the camp there wasn't any winning momentum.

"With the Blues we haven't won too many games so obviously the confidence is not there as a team as it used to be, and maybe that could be a factor.

"The habit of winning is not there at the moment and we are going to try and create that ourselves on Saturday."

PA

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
people
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past