No 'mental block' against Wallabies: Gatland

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Their losing stretch against Australia became 13 on Saturday but Wales coach Warren Gatland says there’s no ‘mental block’ against the Wallabies.

Wales had the Wallabies on the back foot for much of the second half, including during a one-man advantage in the final 15 minutes, but Australia held them out, with a freakish Kurtley Beale try the ultimate saviour.

Gatland shot down the suggestion that Wales has a psychological barrier against Australia, despite their last win against them coming back in 2008.

"I don't think there is anything that showed today that there is a mental block about playing Australia,” he said.

"We were architects of our own downfall because of us not being accurate enough in the first half.

"Given the potency they have got as an attacking team, we made it easier for them. We got more accurate as the game went on.

"No-one is thinking remotely about a mental block about playing Australia.

"I thought it was a much better second-half performance. We allowed Australia opportunities from us being inaccurate with some of our exit plays in our 22, which put us under a lot of pressure.

Beale’s try was controversial for Welsh fans, with suggestions the fullback dropped the ball, and his own attempt at a quick conversion doing nothing to settle that perception.

The TMO reviewed the score to look at whether his slippery steal was a high tackle, but ultimately awarded the try, that came against the mountain of Welsh momentum and Gatland admitted changed the game.

"I felt if Kurtley Beale had not scored that sort of freakish try, there was a good chance we could have won the game,” he said.

"Sometimes, those decisions go for you. It is one of those things. I am not going to dwell on that.

“Against a side of that quality, you have just got to be a bit more clinical. We probably tried to force a few too many passes and offloads."

The Wales mentor said his team was fixated on working towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup, a tournament they want to go in with their heads held high.

“Our whole focus is on the countdown to the World Cup and picking and exposing some young players and giving them this experience and opportunities to develop a game we can play,” he said.

“We feel that the nice thing is we've got Australia in our group... and perhaps from there together we'll go into that group with a lot of confidence and capable of winning that group.”

Wales centre Jonathan Davies is in doubt for the remainder of the series, after an ankle injury.

The Welsh play Georgia in Cardiff next weekend, in the second of their four November internationals.