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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 07:59 GMT
Wales coach does not fear England
By Bryn Palmer

Wales coach Warren Gatland at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday
Gatland enjoyed huge success at Twickenham while Wasps coach
New coach Warren Gatland has urged his Wales players to seize the chance of a first victory at Twickenham in 20 years and launch his reign in stunning style.

Wales have lost their last 10 games in south-west London, including a record 62-5 loss before last year's World Cup. "England's squad doesn't hold any fears for me," Gatland said. "I know a lot of players well from my time at Wasps and we know their strengths and weaknesses. "My players shouldn't have any fear in believing they can get a result there."

Gatland's bullish approach is borne out of his own success at Twickenham, and previous experience of ending a long barren run in the Six Nations.

If we get something out of the first game, we have a chance of doing really well in this tournament

Warren Gatland
The New Zealander led Wasps to three successive Premiership final victories at England headquarters from 2003-05, as well as an epic Heineken Cup final victory over Toulouse in 2004.

And during his three years as Ireland coach, Gatland's men ended a 27-year hoodoo in Paris with a memorable 27-25 victory in 2000 featuring a hat-trick from Brian O'Driscoll.

"I have been in this situation before with Ireland," Gatland told BBC Sport.

"We have a list of things we want to tick off as a squad and one of them for me as a coach is to win at Twickenham - if not this year, then in the next few years.

"You have to go out there with self-belief and know you can compete and do a job. If there are any doubts Twickenham can be a really long day at the office.

606: DEBATE
"It is one of the best stadiums in the world and I have a lot of good memories of it. I am really looking forward to going back there.

"The players should not get daunted by Twickenham and the atmosphere. They should relish the opportunity to go there with some confidence and belief."

Gatland's optimism also stems in part from the recent performances of the Welsh regions in Europe.

The Ospreys, who beat Premiership leaders Gloucester, and the Cardiff Blues, who won at Bristol to seal their own qualification, have given Wales two representatives in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2001.

"This tournament is going to be about the top two inches, and the players should look at those results and think 'we can go to Twickenham and get something'.

"I was talking to (new assistant coach) Shaun Edwards the other day and said 'if we get a result in the first game we have then got two games at home (against Scotland and Italy), and anything can happen'.

I'd rather win 3-0 playing really ugly rugby than lose 48-46 playing fantastic rugby

Warren Gatland
"He told me 'you Kiwis are all the same'. But you have to go in there with that dream that you can achieve something. That is the approach we are going to take into this Six Nations.

"The first step is going to Twickenham and playing with passion and if the Welsh public can see a team giving their best, that is the starting point for us.

"If we get something out of the game, we have a chance of doing really well in this tournament. If not, we will know where we are after this game."

Gatland's predecessor as Wales coach, Gareth Jenkins, trumpeted the "Welsh way" of playing as essential to the national team's success.

But Gatland indicated he will take a more pragmatic approach initially as he and Edwards attempt to ensure the basic elements of "defence, scrums and line-out, driving and mauling play, the contact areas" are brought up to scratch.

"If we get those to a reasonable level then we can start developing the game we want to play," he added.

"But I'd rather win 3-0 playing really ugly rugby than lose 48-46 playing fantastic rugby."



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