Gatland : Wales can win the Rugby World Cup

Warren Gatland has named his tour squad

Wales coach Warren Gatland has said after beating South Africa that his team can win the Rugby World Cup next year if they can “get the bounce of the ball”.

Wales held on to beat South Africa 12-6 earning them their second ever win over the Springboks and ending a run of 22 consecutive defeats against the southern hemisphere’s “big three” rugby teams.

New Zealander Gatland says that the victory is a landmark result for his side who had not beaten one of the SANZAR three since 2008.

“It’s nice to win today, we’ve wounded one of the big beasts… it’s one of the stepping stones to what we’re trying to achieve,” Gatland told the BBC.

“The long-term goal is to win the World Cup. “

“And I think we’re good enough to do that if we get the bounce of the ball, and a couple of things go our way.

“(But) it’s going to take a lot of hard work between now and the next eight to 10 months.”

Gatland said that Wales had “desperately needed” to beat one of South Africa, New Zealand or Australia after a string of near misses.

The Kiwi coach said that the Welsh team management approach for the autumn internationals was as preparation for the Rugby world cup next year in which they are pooled with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

“I keep saying that our whole focus is to make sure that we qualify out of our group, the pool of death next year,” added Gatland.

“That’s what our focus is on. “

“The way we approached this autumn and the way we approach the Six Nations… the long-term goal is to make the quarter-finals of the World Cup and if we don’t do that it’s going to be a huge disappointment.”

“A win like today (against South Africa) and going toe to toe with the All Blacks for 69 minutes, being in front against Australia as well – we’ve learned from those experiences.

“And we’ll be able to draw back on them and it will make us mentally stronger – (give us) that mental toughness and edge that can hopefully take us to that next level.”

Wales captain Sam Warburton added that the challenge for Wales is to continue beating the big teams like South Africa on a regular basis.

“We don’t want this to happen once in a blue moon and celebrate like we’ve won the World Cup,” said the Cardiff Blues flanker.

“If we want to be world beaters – which is what we want to do – and to win the World Cup, this has got to be the standard we expect now year-in, year-out and hopefully kick on from here.”

While Gatland and his team have taken confidence from the victory over the Springboks former Wales wing wizard Shane Williams says that it is “a little bit premature” to talk about winning the World Cup.

Williams said that even though he feels Wales are in better position now that they were a month ago the Rugby World Cup is still a long way off.

“It’s great to be confident but there’s a long time in between,” Williams said.

Williams who was part of the 2011 Wales squad that reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals said that the focus for now should be on beating England in the Six Nation (on the February 6th) as that is Wales’ opening Six Nations match.

“I think it’s a little bit early and premature to start talking World Cup and winning it,” says Williams.

“If I was coach I wouldn’t even be speaking about the World Cup at the moment because it’s a very tough Six Nations you’ve got to get through and hopefully win.

“However I think they are in a better position now than they were two, three weeks ago.

“They’ve got to talk and be confident because they’re a very good squad and they’ve proven they can beat the best in the world when they perform on the day.”

“It was a game they had to win,” Williams told BBC Radio Wales.

“The pressure was on, certainly the coaching staff, and the players themselves but they went out there and proved a very big point.

“The win was exactly what the coaches and the players needed especially going into a big Six Nations.

“Hopefully it builds the momentum going into the Six Nations.”

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