Wales told they will pay for yellows


James Corrigan
Saturday 11 February 2012 01:00 GMT
Warren Gatland explains his new hardline approach yesterday
Warren Gatland explains his new hardline approach yesterday (PA)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


See a silly yellow card, see a serious month's wages disappear down the toilet.

That is the threat Warren Gatland has made to his Welsh squad as they try to build on their fortuitous victory in Dublin. Scotland are this week's Sunday dish and yesterday the Kiwi was keen to point out the dangers posed by Andy Robinson's wounded. "We expect a challenge of desperation," said Gatland, plainly baffled how they lost to England. "I think it'll be lot tighter than people think it might be."

It could even come down to one moment of madness. The confrontation with Ireland so almost did, as Wales somehow pulled back a six-point deficit in the last five minutes despite seeing Bradley Davies sent to the sin bin for a brainless spear-tackle. In the past, Wales have paid for such indiscipline and Gatland is plainly sick of it.

"At the moment, nothing the coaches are saying [about conceding yellow cards] is working with some individuals," said Gatland. "I suggested a fine of £20,000-£30,000 could be relevant, but none of them were very keen on that. So I asked them to come back with a suggestion which could act as a deterrent against unnecessary yellow cards." Sam Warburton, the captain, agreed with the coach's punishment, saying "it's a lot of money, but you wouldn't do it again", while Leigh Halfpenny quipped "I'd agree with it, unless it was me who got the yellow". Everyone, however, recognised the necessity to eradicate the red-mist instants, but then after this week's seven-week ban for Davies it was hard to disagree.

Ryan Jones, who performed so admirably at blind-side against Ireland, has been shifted to cover for Davies and it will be an intriguing battle up front. The Scottish forwards more than held their own against England and in David Denton unearthed a potential superstar. Warburton has played against the No 8 for his region, so already knew about his strengths. "I remember telling Gethin [Jenkins, the prop] that Denton is a hell of a player," said Warburton. "We'll have to watch him."

Wales, however, are more than confident of stopping the Edinburgh bull-dozer. Dan Lydiate returns from injury to re-form the back-row trio which made such an impression at the World Cup. The one worry is Warburton, who, courtesy of ruptured blood vessels in his leg, has not taken part in any contact training since being forced off at half-time on Sunday. His back-up, Justin Tipuric, is out with a ankle injury so a lot rests on the young captain.

The 23-year-old has been icing his thigh every two hours, including at night, as well spending daily session in a portable cryotherapy chamber. It has helped him limp on to the starting line, although he admitted he won't know how successful his recovery has been until he takes the first hit. "That's the risk we have to take," he said.

Another concern for Gatland will be whether he and his kicking coach Neil Jenkins have chosen correctly. A decision will be made today between Rhys Priestland and last Sunday's penalty match-winner, Halfpenny. Expect the latter to be given the tee. Also expect positive rugby after Scotland chose to have the Millennium Stadium roof closed. Gatland welcomed that decision, saying it showed Scotland "aren't a negative side". However, they struggle to score tries. A blank here would be their fifth in a row and with the likes of George North and Co in opposition the likelihood is they will receive a harsh lesson in chance-conversion.

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