Wales coach Gatland : I am not under pressure

Wales coach Warren Gatland has denied that he is under pressure as his team look for their first victory over one of the big three Southern Hemisphere teams.

Under Gatland Wales have played the SANZAR sides of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa 27 times and they have won one Test and lost 26.

Wales’ only Test victory over a SANZAR side was six years ago in 2008 when they edged the Wallabies 21-18.

Gatland has played down reports that he is under pressure for his position with less than 10 months to go before the Rugby World Cup.

Frustratingly Wales have come close to beating the Sanzar teams on several occassions just as they did against Australia earlier in November when they went down 28-33 in Cardiff.

Wales followed that up with a 17-13 victory over Fiji using an experimental team before their big clash against New Zealand’s All Blacks who they held for 69 minutes before letting three late tries slip through.

“You’re always under pressure in sport and it’s more about the pressure you put on yourself as much as anything, the external pressure to perform,” Gatland said.

“The autumn (series) is not a competition, it’s about using it to play against the best teams in the world who have come off really strong campaigns to prepare potentially for the Six Nations, which is our competition, and the World Cup.”

Gatland denied a complaint had been made to broadcaster BBC over a post-match interview, instead stressing that his team’s World Cup draw in a pool that includes England, Australia and Fiji was his focus.

“It was an unbelievable Test match last week. We pushed the All Blacks for 69 minutes and played some great rugby,” the Kiwi coach said.

“We’re just concentrating on this weekend.

“I’m happy at where we are at the moment. At the start of the campaign, I stressed that we were looking at the long term.

“What we’re going to be judged on is our performance in the World Cup and our whole focus is on getting out of that pool in the World Cup.

“That’s been the whole emphasis of this campaign and it’ll be the same with the Six Nations.”

Gatland added: “We’ve pushed two of the best teams in the world pretty close, we’ve been in front, the disappointing thing is that we haven’t been able to finish those games on in the last 10-15 minutes and that’s what we have to work on as coaches and a team.

“The whole emphasis is making sure we finish off and play the full 80 minutes. And to be in front against these top sides with 10 or 20 minutes to go is not enough.

“You’ve got to keep raising the tempo and be prepared to play the full 80 minutes.”

That didn’t happen the last time Wales played South Africa, the Springboks mounting a stunning comeback to beat Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit in June after the Welsh had led 17-0 and 30-17 going into the final quarter.

A Wales victory would also be only the second in the history between the two nations, the sole win coming under Graham Henry in the first-ever match at the Millennium Stadium in 1999.

Otherwise, the Springboks have won 27, with one drawn (1970).

“We’re expecting another tough encounter against one of the best teams in the world,” Gatland said.

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