With the Welsh Rugby Union deciding on a head coach change so close to the 2023 World Cup in France, Warren Gatland does not have long before the major tournament across the Channel.
However, having worked under limited time frames in the past with the British & Irish Lions, if anyone can turn things around for Wales in this time, it’s Gatland.
Lions Experience Key
Having been the Lions head coach for the last three tours of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland knows how to bring a side together quickly and be successful. Wales, who are 12/1 to win the title in the 2023 Six Nations odds, decided to part company with coach Wayne Pivac in December and now Gatland has limited time to prepare for the World Cup. At 22/1 in the Rugby Union betting to win the World Cup for the first time in their history, Wales are in a group of potential outsiders for the title. While Gatland will be building towards the World Cup, the New Zealander will be fully focused on the Six Nations first of all.
With the Lions, Gatland has been used to bringing a squad of the top players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales together for the iconic tours. Time is precious in those days before heading out to the southern hemisphere and that experience of working under time constraints will be key for his return to the Wales job.
Gatland Can Look To Old Heads
While there are set to be some fresh faces coming through for the 2023 Six Nations campaign, Gatland can look to some of the more established names in his squad to lead from the front. Back-rower Justin Tipuric, who has been on three Lions tours, continues to be a key player for the national side and has been impressing for Ospreys this season. At 33 years old, Tipuric is one of the most senior players in the squad and he will be key for Wales if they are to have a positive Six Nations leading into the World Cup.
In the backs, fly-half Dan Biggar is also set to play a big role in the transition back to Gatland’s style of rugby. Now playing his club rugby over in France with Toulon, Biggar has plenty of experience of playing under Gatland and will know what the Kiwi coach is looking for from his side in the titanic tests to come in the Six Nations. Wales managed just one win in the Six Nations last season, with the competition ending with a shock 22-21 defeat to Italy in Cardiff. Gatland has been brought back in to try and bring the side back to the force they were during his first tenure.
Time is of the essence for Wales as they look to compete with the likes of reigning champions France and fellow contenders Ireland in the Six Nations. Gatland knows what the competition is all about and will be looking to call on all that experience for the tournament and the highly-anticipated World Cup on French soil to come.