Wales boss Warren Gatland has revealed that he gave his players a verbal rocket yesterday and a clear warning about their places in the team.
Wales return to Rugby World Cup action against Fiji tomorrow, just five days after the emotional high of beating host nation England at Twickenham.
With such a short turnaround, Gatland knows the mental approach and attitude must be spot-on if Wales are to remain unbeaten in Pool A and stay on a clear quarter-final course.
“They got a bit of a rocket this morning, in terms of we named the team and I said to them about this morning [training] being a bit lighter,” Gatland said.
“But we would look at the GPS numbers and the intensity [in training] this afternoon, not a long training session, about 40 minutes, and I just said that if I see any body language or anything that’s not right, I will change you tomorrow.
“It’s not physically, it’s mentally making sure they are right. Sometimes, the challenge is not the physical challenge, but that mental challenge. You have got to be right, and that’s our job as coaches, to make sure that hopefully we get them mentally right for what is going to be a big challenge.”
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, who will win his 50th cap tomorrow, offered a fascinating insight into Gatland’s approach barely 48 hours before kick-off against Fiji.
“He said he would be looking at the GPS numbers to see how hard we were running, and watching the boys’ body language. He said that if anyone walks round the pitch thinking they can take it easy, they will suffer the consequences. He said that if anyone was brave enough to test that theory, then to go ahead. I was like, ‘alright, I will be flat out this afternoon’.”
Asked about Gatland’s ability to surprise, Lydiate added: “When it comes to selection, even coming in this morning, everyone is like: ‘What is he going to do? Is he going to mix it up? Is he going to keep it the same?’
“Everyone is on their toes every selection, and that is the best way to be. No-one takes their place for granted in this squad, and it seems to be working so far. When we train, he looks for intensity. If we have done a defensive drill and then switch over to attack, you sprint to the next drill. It is not just walking over.
“If we are talking about a drill or what needs to happen here and there, we talk about it on the run, not just having a cup of tea and a five-minute chat because the intensity goes straightaway. It is that sort of mindset.”
Gatland, meanwhile, dismissed a newspaper report which claimed that Wales might have been connected with alleged spying on a recent Australia training session. Wales face the Wallabies at Twickenham on October 10.
“I couldn’t give a toss whether anyone is watching us train and stuff,” he said. “We haven’t got fences around us, and we are not interested in spying on anyone. There is enough analysis going on.
“If anyone’s doing it, good luck to them. It’s not something that we’re interested in doing, or particularly worried about. If you start getting paranoid about those sorts of things, it is going to take your mind off what you are supposed to be doing.”
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