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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 11:00 GMT
Gatland can lift Wales - Edwards
By Julian Shea

Gareth Edwards
Edwards is confident about what Gatland can achieve
Wales legend Gareth Edwards says new coach Warren Gatland is the ideal man to revive Welsh rugby after their failure at the World Cup.

Edwards says it is an advantage Gatland comes from outside the Welsh system as he will bring a fresh perspective.

"The team requires an outsider who can cut through the politics and has no axe to grind," Edwards told BBC Sport.

"Someone from the outside may well be the catalyst to get the players thinking in a different way."

Previous coach Gareth Jenkins was sacked following Wales' failure to get past the group stage of the World Cup, culminating in their defeat by Fiji.

Gatland is the man given the task of restoring morale and pride to the team, and comes to the job with a wealth of experience from coaching Wasps and Ireland.

To all intents and purposes they're the world champions. Even if it's not the same XV, they still have that mantle

Gareth Edwards on Wales' opponents South Africa

"He will obviously put his own team ethics in, and, coming from a New Zealander, they'll be of a high standard," said Edwards.

"What he does inherit is some very talented players, like Alun Wyn Jones. James Hook is anyone's delight as a playmaker, and Ian Evans is another fine lock.

"There are more and more of them coming through into the pack who can be there for a few years."

The slide from the Grand Slam of 2005 to the disappointment of losing to Fiji in Marseille has made for painful viewing, but Edwards is confident that Gatland can help restore the team's fortunes.

"I don't believe for one minute that just tweaking the side will turn them into competitive Grand Slammers, but I think if they get a bit of confidence and win a few games, we can see a lot more to come, and who knows, maybe Gatland is the man to do that."

Warren Gatland with Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio
Gatland enjoyed great success in his time coaching Wasps

Wales' first chance to restore their fortunes comes on Saturday, when caretaker coach Nigel Davies takes charge of the side against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

And Edwards says a decent performance there could do wonders for the side before the Gatland era begins.

"The game has been diluted by the pull-out of a number of Springboks, but I'm not surprised, they've got nothing to prove after the World Cup and can rightly expect some time off," he said.

"But it's a great opportunity for Wales to put a notch on their belts. If they beat a South African side they'll be very proud and so will I.

"To all intents and purposes they're the world champions. Even if it's not the same XV, they still have that mantle.

"So if it isn't their strongest side, what a great chance for Wales to notch a win, which would give them a lot of confidence going into the Six Nations.

"Lots of players are showing good form - maybe not as well as they can play, but I think playing the world champions at the Millennium Stadium is incentive enough to raise their game."

SEE ALSO
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
07 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union
The tests facing Gatland
09 Nov 07 |  Welsh
Wales 34-38 Fiji
29 Sep 07 |  Welsh


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