Gatland praises Mallet’s Italian job

Warren Gatland praised opposite number Nick Mallett as Wales prepared to put their perfect Six Nations record on the line against Italy here on Saturday.

Wales coach Gatland believes Mallett deserves the credit for pushing Italy in the right direction.

The former Wasps and Ireland chief has gone head to head with the South African for club and country in the past and has always been impressed by his counterpart’s teams.

“We have been in each other’s company a number of times and we both share the desire to want to win,” said Gatland.

“I have a huge amount of respect for what he has achieved in rugby.

He was really successful with South Africa and he went on to be successful at Stade Francais.

“After just a couple of games, I think he has done a great job already with the Italian side and he is building structures.” As a result of his respect for the South African’s reputation, Gatland warned Wales to treat Italy with respect.

Meanwhile, Mallett on Friday refused to have the Millennium Stadium roof closed for the game despite the forecast of heavy rain.

Gatland would have liked the game to be played indoors, but the visiting team have the casting vote and Mallett believes rugby should be a game for all weathers and so the pitch will be open to the elements.

“I think the weather is part and parcel of rugby. I am not a great believer in closing the roof. I don’t like it,” said Mallett.

“Your team’s ability to adapt to the weather is an important part of the game. Rugby is one of the few sports you can play in any type of weather and you should retain that.

“We would be quite happy on a sunny day and if it is raining we will do our best in those conditions.

“If we say it won’t be closed, then it won’t be closed.”

Sapa-AFP –

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