I will miss Six Nations but now it is all about Japan, says Warren Gatland

• Wales coach turns attention to World Cup after grand slam
• ‘I am incredibly proud of players for what they have achieved’

Warren Gatland will this week turn his attention to the World Cup after celebrating the grand slam and Wales’s fourth Six Nations title since he took over as head coach at the end of 2007.

“I am excited about the World Cup,” said Gatland, whose contract is up at the end of the tournament. “We will spend two or three months together and that will allow us to be like a club side. I am incredibly proud of the players for what they have achieved and from now it is all about doing well in Japan.”

Wales rode an emotional tidal wave here to wash away Ireland. “We were going for the slam while Ireland knew that, realistically, they were playing for second,” said Gatland. “That had a significant impact and it was a great performance by the players. We expected the roof to be open and from the start of the week we tailored our gameplan to wet conditions.

“In a year’s time I will be sitting somewhere watching the Six Nations. I will miss it and hope this group of players can continue to put respect into the jersey as has been the case for the last 12 years. All supporters ask is that players try hard and that’s what makes this group so difficult to beat.”

The Wales captain, Alun Wyn Jones, said the best was still to come. “At times we have been unconvincing so we like to think there is still potential in us,” he said. “We are well aware we have put a target on our backs before the World Cup.

“We have shown that anything can happen when you work hard. Warren is the man at the top and he has been unwavering when we have been under pressure. I am sure we will miss Warren when he is gone, but that is not for a few months yet.”

Wales’s campaign was disrupted by a public dispute over the future of the country’s four regions. “It has not all been smooth sailing,” said the outside-half Gareth Anscombe, the man of the match who scored 20 points and created his side’s try. “We have developed a habit of winning and as a group we work incredibly hard for each other.”

It was the final match in the Six Nations for the Ireland captain, Rory Best. “We could not get a foothold after Wales’s cracking start,” said the hooker. “They put us under a lot of pressure: it can do strange things to you and we struggled to respond. We have to address why we lost, dust ourselves off and finish the year strongly. We will talk about the aftermath later but credit to Wales, deserved grand slam winners.”

Ireland struggled to play catch-up in the rain, a legacy of their decision to keep the roof open. “Perhaps that was a mistake,” said their head coach, Joe Schmidt. “It was about getting ahead early and they did that. Going for a grand slam gives you an extra 5% and they were desperately keen to achieve it, as we were at Twickenham last year.

“We need to grow a bit from this before the World Cup, reflect and rebuild, but you have to take your hat off to Wales and to Gats – 12 years in charge of an international side is an incredible achievement.”


Paul Rees at the Principality Stadium

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