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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2008, 10:09 GMT

Warren Gatland
Gatland believes Wales can become a force to be reckoned with
Wales coach Warren Gatland admits he did not expect at the start of the RBS Six Nations that his side would go on to win the Triple Crown.

A hard-fought 16-12 win over Ireland in Dublin clinched the title, with the championship and Grand Slam up for grabs against France next weekend.

"For me it was about trying to get a start with Wales and set down a platform for the future," said Gatland.

"I realised pretty quickly that I had a very talented team of players."

He added: "We've worked really hard in this competition and these players thoroughly deserve what they've achieved so far.

"The Triple Crown is nice, that's step one, but the most important thing is the championship and we've got a chance of winning it and the Grand Slam as well so next week is going to be really important.

"There is going to be a lot of hype and expectation."

BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan

But Gatland warned that France's visit to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday will probably be Wales' toughest test.

"I think France will come and play a lot more rugby," he said.

"I think they will be more comfortable (than Ireland) to move the ball and keep the ball and play from deep in their own half as well.

"So defensively, there's a lot of work for us to do.

"There will be pressure on us in terms of pace as well."

Whatever the outcome, Gatland believes he has a team in the making that can go on to be a force to be reckoned with.

"We talked about this (Six Nations) as a starting point and I honestly believe in 12 months or a couple of years we are going to be serious contenders of a team who can play at a higher tempo," he said.

"We can improve our forward play and our accuracy and when we get that right I think we're going to be not a bad side."

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