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Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 10:31 UK

Gatland looks at provincial games

First Test venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Date: Saturday, 7 June Kick-off: 1400 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and online

Wales coach Warren Gatland
Former Waikato forward Gatland knows all about Kiwi provincial rugby

Wales coach Warren Gatland is looking into playing provincial teams when he takes the national side on tour to New Zealand in 2010.

Gatland said playing top Kiwi sides would provide young Wales players with a chance to play at a higher level than they normally experience.

He also feels it would provide them with a "real learning curve" in finding out about playing top-level rugby.

"It's something that we're considering going forward," said Gatland.

The Kiwi explained how putting the plan into place in time for the return to his homeland New Zealand would provide him with the ideal platform to develop and look at domestic players ahead of the World Cup the following year.


"It's something that we're looking at in 2010 going to New Zealand and using it as a pre-run to the World Cup in 2011 when we'll look to play some provincial games," he confirmed.

"It's an opportunity for young players to go out there and, for some of them, it's an opportunity to go and fail without perhaps affecting their careers too much and for them to use it as a real learning curve.

"For us it's something that we may need to think about, sort of going forward, as giving players domestically an opportunity either on tours or with A team games a game.

"In the domestic competition in Wales at the moment there are a number of foreign players and we need to think about developing and giving our local domestic players opportunities at a higher level than just Magners League rugby or European Cup rugby."

As a former provincial player himself with a record of 140 games played for Waikato, Gatland knows all about the rigours and quality of play in New Zealand's provincial set-up and what tests will provide for his players.

see also
South Africa name four new faces
28 May 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
07 Aug 07 |  Wales

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