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Six Nations 2019: Warren Gatland focused on final title of Wales reign

Six Nations 2019: Warren Gatland focused on final title of Wales reign

Warren Gatland took over as Wales coach from Gareth Jenkins after the 2007 World CupSix Nations: France v WalesVenue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Friday, 1 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMTCoverage: Live on BBC One, BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC…


Warren Gatland took over as Wales coach from Gareth Jenkins after the 2007 World Cup

Warren Gatland took over as Wales coach from Gareth Jenkins after the 2007 World Cup
Six Nations: France v Wales
Venue:Stade de France, ParisDate:Friday, 1 FebruaryKick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage:Live on BBC One, BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Coach Warren Gatland says he has not thought about anything other than finishing first in his final Six Nations in charge of Wales.

Gatland took charge of his first game in 2008, and is preparing for his 10th tournament having spent two seasons as British and Irish Lions boss.

Wales begin their campaign against France in Paris on Friday.

“I haven’t really contemplated anything other than winning the Six Nations,” said Gatland.

Wales have not won the tournament since 2013, when caretaker coach Rob Howley was in charge with Gatland away on Lions duty

Gatland has celebrated two Grand Slam successes, the first in his opening 2008 campaign and again in 2012.

He also guided Wales to a 2011 World Cup semi-final, celebrated Lions success against Australia in 2013 and a drawn series against New Zealand four years later.

Wales go into Paris on the back of a nine-match winning streak and Gatland believes success at the Stade de France could result in a title bid.

“I’ve been pretty open that we have a good chance of winning the Six Nations,” said Gatland.

“I think if we win this first game, we can win it given we have home games against England and Ireland.

“We came second last year which was OK. It would be great for us to win the Six Nations, but we know there’s the World Cup later in the year.”

France will pose a big test to Wales, literally in the forwards.

Les Bleus will field an eight with a combined weight of just over 150 stones, spearheaded by prop Uini Atonio (22st 7lbs) and South African born lock Paul Willemse (21st 3lbs), who is making his debut.

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Returning Wales flanker Josh Navidi says Wales will adopt a bigger-they-are-harder-they-fall policy and Gatland knows they need to nullify the physical threat.

“The way we’ve tended to play against France is keep the ball on the park and not be afraid to kick long and try and find a bit of grass,” said Gatland.

“They will kick a lot of ball out to try and slow the game down and play a lot off [Morgan] Parra at nine.

“There is no doubt they will have a big go at our scrum and try to maul us off the park. They were pretty effective in the autumn in that area.

“We’ve got to be on our mettle, and – from a defensive point of view – it’s paramount our line-speed and collisions are good.

“We’ve been working on that and talking about stopping their forward momentum which they can create from their pack.”

For the latest Welsh rugby news follow@BBCScrumVon Twitter.

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