Warren Gatland’s surprising halftime pep talk that ignited Wales fightback

Warren Gatland’s surprising halftime pep talk that ignited Wales fightback

Rio Dyer believes that Wales will need to back themselves and build on a stunning second-half display against Scotland when they tackle England at Twickenham next Saturday.

Although Wales lost a pulsating Guinness Six Nations clash 27-26 to the Scots, it could not overshadow the vintage rugby they conjured from nowhere.

Trailing by 27 points with almost half the game left, Wales were heading towards record Six Nations defeat territory at a frightening speed.

But four tries in 20 minutes from Dyer, James Botham, Aaron Wainwright and Alex Mann, plus three Ioan Lloyd conversions, left Scotland hanging on.

“We were in our shell during that first-half, ” Wales wing Dyer said.

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“We were hitting it up and getting put on the back foot, so the only thing we could do then was to kick it.

“Gats (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) said at half-time: ‘let’s actually play, let’s go out there, we have got nothing to lose now. We are under the pump, so let’s go out and show what we can actually do’.

“He was softly spoken, he wasn’t shouting at people, he just brought the boys in and said we can’t be putting out performances like that in the first-half in the first game of the Six Nations.

“I think it was amazing to see how the boys stuck together.

“We are a young squad who have only been in camp for two weeks. It is just about getting used to each other, but throughout that second-half we showed what we could do.”


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More of the same is likely to be required against England, whose recent Twickenham record in the fixture is an imposing one.

Wales have lost their last seven Tests in south-west London since claiming a 2015 World Cup pool win, with just two Six Nations victories – in 2008 and 2012 – since the competition expanded 24 years ago.

Dyer added: “I think that kind of second-half should give the boys the confidence to say we can back ourselves a little bit more than we did in the first-half.

“Personally, I just think it is that confidence to play. We need to back ourselves, and that was the message at half-time before we went back out there.

“Everyone is here for a reason, everyone has got things they can do, and let’s not go into our shells.

“It is about pushing ourselves as a young squad to build the momentum on to next week.”

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Rio Dyer – PA

Changes look likely to the Wales line-up against England, headlined by a fit-again George North’s anticipated return in midfield.

And given the considerable impact made by a number of his substitutes, Gatland could easily hand starts to players like scrum-half Tomos Williams, hooker Elliot Dee and prop Keiron Assiratti.

Gatland said: “We will go there (Twickenham) with a lot of confidence we can build on that second-half and belief. That is the biggest thing, really.

“I think we can go there and say we know what we want to do.”


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