Warren Gatland: Wales coach dares to dream of winning World Cup

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales in Yokohama, Japan
'Keep writing us off, we love it!' - Wales coach Warren Gatland
2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final: Wales v South Africa
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama Date: Sun, 27 Oct Kick-off: 09:00 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Warren Gatland says he dreams of going back to New Zealand having led Wales to Rugby World Cup glory in Japan.

Gatland hopes to end his 12-year reign as Wales coach by winning his last two games and lifting the Webb Ellis Cup on 2 November in Yokohama.

Wales face South Africa on Sunday hoping to reach their first World Cup final.

Victory against the Springboks would set up a tournament finale against England or New Zealand.

"I am not sure the Welsh Rugby Union would let me take the World Cup back to New Zealand!" said Gatland.

"But they are things you have to dream about and one of the things about me is that I am probably the greatest optimist in terms of believing something is possible.

"If you don't have that attitude and portray it, it will not happen. A big part of success is the belief and the desire to do something.

"That is what we will be building on in the next two days and two games and hopefully I can go back to New Zealand with my head held high."

Wales wing Josh Adams embraces World Cup learning curve to semi-finals

Gatland will take charge of the Chiefs when he returns to New Zealand, while also leading the British and Irish Lions for a third time on the 2021 tour of South Africa.

The Wales coach has transformed the national side after taking over from Gareth Jenkins at the end of 2007.

His tenure has produced three Grand Slams, four Six Nations titles, two World Cup semi-finals and a brief ranking as world number one.

"The biggest thing I am proud of is that I think we have earned respect from the rest of the world in terms of what we have achieved in the last 12 years." said Gatland.

"I am not sure it was there before that.

"World rankings where we were (at 10th) compared to now, to what we have achieved in terms of Six Nations and Grand Slams.

"I would love to beat the All Blacks and that is one thing I have not achieved, but respect for what we have done is the biggest thing."

Wales were below-par in the quarter-finals but held their nerve to edge out France
Wales were below par in the quarter-finals but held their nerve to edge out France

Wales have become a hard side to beat under Gatland in the last couple of seasons and proved that with a 20-19 quarter-final win over France, despite a poor performance.

"It has been a learning process the players have gone through, because we have lost games in key moments in the last few minutes," said Gatland.

"Composure and control are important and I thought we handled the last four or five minutes against France outstandingly, especially when we got in front.

"You looked at their body language and they did not believe they could beat us.

"The way [replacement scrum-half] Tomos Williams controlled the last few minutes was exceptional. In the past we might have panicked a little or got a bit nervous, but we were composed.

"You cannot coach that. There are a lot of things players have to learn on the field as youngsters, such as pace and intensity.

"This group of players have won 18 or 19 competitive games in a row and that gives us confidence going into Sunday."

Springbok power

Wales will have to overcome a physical South Africa pack that will be able to bring six forwards off the replacements bench.

"South Africa have a very good scrum and have depth in that area with bringing quality guys off the bench," said Gatland.

"You've got to be smart in terms of the way you play. We have played against big sides already this tournament and it's important we are able to cope with that.

"We talk about physicality other teams bring against us. We have got to not just match that but bring our own physicality.

"That's important when you play South Africa, they are definitely physical."

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