Rugby World Cup 2015: Wales coach Warren Gatland says players given tough criticism

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport
George North
George North was criticised by coach Warren Gatland for their performance when Australia were down to 13 men
World Cup quarter-final: Wales v South Africa
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 17 October Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Head coach Warren Gatland has been "hard" on his Wales team ahead of Saturday's World Cup quarter-final with South Africa.

Wales face the Springboks after losing 15-6 to Australia in their final pool match despite the Wallabies defending for seven minutes with only 13 players.

Gatland has made three changes for Saturday's match, and confirmed the team had been given tough feedback.

"We've been pretty hard on the players," he said.

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Lack of composure

Australia were reduced to 13 when Will Genia and Dean Mumm were shown yellow cards within three minutes of each other midway through the second half.

The Wallabies repelled waves of Welsh attacks with Gatland saying his players had lacked composure under pressure, and highlighted two incidents in particular.

"Toby [Taulupe] Faletau loses the ball in contact when [fly-half] Dan Biggar is screaming for it - but the communication doesn't get through that we have a three-on-one overlap," added Gatland.

"And George North comes short after Jamie Roberts has come in and shortened them up - and he should have kept his width. In the same situation [against Ireland in March 2015] Scott Williams keeps his width and goes in and scores.

"The easiest and the softest decision is to tuck the ball under your arm - because no one criticises that."

Dan Biggar, Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones
Dan Biggar scored Wales' only points in their 15-6 defeat to Australia in their final Group A match in the Rugby World Cup pool stage

Blew good chances

Gatland summarised the players' reaction to the criticism as "fantastic" and added:

"We say to them if we stop criticising you can start worrying because it means we've stopped caring."

Captain Sam Warburton confirmed the post-match analysis had been an unpleasant experience.

"There's a lot of chances we blew. I watched the video back and I can't believe we didn't get over and have a try," he said.

"All it is is a bit of scanning and vision. We had to look up once or twice and we'd have seen a glaring overlap."

Jones has "150 caps in him"

The match against South Africa at Twickenham will be Wales second row Alun Wyn Jones 100th Test match appearance.

The 30-year-old Ospreys lock will be making his 94th appearance for Wales and has played six Tests with the British and Irish Lions.

Jones played down the landmark - "It's not 100 yet, it's 94 plus six," he said - but Warburton was full of praise.

"I don't want to embarrass him when he's sitting next to me, but if I had to name a handful of the best players I've played with I'd say Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Shane Williams, Martyn Williams. Alun is in that bracket.

Alun Wyn Jones international cap infographic

"We're very fortunate to have a player of his experience and stature and he's showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever.

"I was chatting to Dan Lydiate the other day and we were saying he's [Jones] probably got 150 caps in him I reckon.

As long as the body goes alright he'll do the cap record."

Wales' record cap holder is Gethin Jenkins. The Cardiff Blues loose-head will be making his 119th appearance for Wales against South Africa.