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Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Coach Warren Gatland promises pain for Wales players

RBS SIX NATIONS: Wales v Italy
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website; full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

Fly-half Jones expects tough week

Warren Gatland has promised his under-performing Wales players they will suffer previously unknown pain levels before they meet Italy on Saturday.

The New Zealander also says changes will be made to the match squad in the wake of the 27-12 loss to Ireland.

"They will go through some pain at training that they probably haven't experienced before," said Gatland.

Gatland also says he and his coaches must perform effectively and he wants Wales to develop a hard edge up front.

"Probably the thing from Saturday is that you come under a bit of pressure and you're looking for some players - and some key players - to really take it by the scruff of the neck; sort of a tough, hard edge of a forward to say 'follow me'," added Gatland.

"At the moment the reality is we probably don't have one or two of those players. One or two of them might be there in the future, but it's just where we're at. It's not a criticism of the players, it's the individuals.

Wales' players need to go through a little bit of pain because we're hurting

Warren Gatland

"Sometimes you're lucky enough - you've got teams when you've got players like that who are very competitive. I suppose the closest one we've got to that is Gethin [Jenkins].

"We see that sort of gnarly sort of forward approach. He's so competitive he's not afraid to turn around and give it to his team-mates if he doesn't think they're pulling their weight or doing enough on the field.

"Those are the sort of players you're looking for, that we're looking to develop."

Of himself, defence coach Shaun Edwards, attack coach Robert Howley and forwards coach Robin McBryde, Gatland said: "We need to put our hands up as coaches and take responsibility and not just the players, but the coaches as well - we've got to deliver a performance or we need to look at ourselves."

However, Gatland will not drop full-back Lee Byrne for the yellow card offence that was followed in his absence by two Irish tries at Croke Park.

But Byrne and his team-mates seem set to be in for their toughest training week since Gatland took over ahead of Wales' 2008 Grand Slam.

"We've tried to develop and tried to have a little bit more leadership and player-led [displays] in terms of them developing the game," he said.

"The coaches have spoken and unfortunately we haven't developed enough in that area.

"And the way this group of players seem to respond is hard work, being very much coach-led at the moment and what's been very costly for us is when we haven't been accurate in the game or we've given away yellow cards and we've seen the result.


"There's been points - three points - or sometimes seven points and it's cost us games and victories.

"So for me it's [about] putting the players under a lot of pressure at training and if you make mistakes or errors then there'll be a few punishments.

"Players need to go through a little bit of pain because we're hurting.

"The coaching staff are hurting, the players are hurting and we've got to get a response and a performance on Saturday that reflects how important this is to us."

Gatland says Byrne's offence against Ireland, when he tapped the ball out of Tomas O'Leary's hands, was cynical.

But the Wales coach says but the player may have been unlucky to have been sin-binned for it as Ireland were not threatening the try-line at the time.

However, Gatland also said Byrne could then have been sent off for a second technical offence when he was caught throwing the ball away after crawling into touch to prevent Ireland taking a quick throw-in.

Gatland said: "You can understand the referee - I'm not complaining at the referee for making that [yellow card] call.

"But there was a possibility to argue that you could have penalised him and given him [Byrne] a fairly stern talking to and said if anything similar occurs it would result in a yellow card.

"I think to be honest, he was lucky not to get a red card in the end because the second incident - throwing the ball away - at the lineo-ut time, conceivably he [referee Andre Joubert] could have given another card for that."

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see also
Williams intends to defy critics
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France 46-20 Italy
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Wales rugby results archive
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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