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Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Saturday, 29 May 2010 10:57 UK

Wales boss Warren Gatland dismisses Scott Johnson views

Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 5 June Kick-off: 1430 BST
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO Wales & online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru & online, score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website

Wales coach Warren Gatland
Coach Warren Gatland does not want to talk up Wales' chances

Warren Gatland has dismissed Wales predecessor Scott Johnson's assertion that New Zealand are vulnerable and now is a good time to play South Africa.

Ospreys coaching boss Johnson made his views known to BBC Sport Wales earlier this week.

Wales host South Africa on 5 June, then fly to New Zealand for two Tests.

But coach Gatland said: "If you talk about New Zealand being vulnerable, I think it's a mistake to in any way disregard their talent."

Kiwi Gatland has told his players he does not want them on the flight to New Zealand if they feel they cannot beat the All Blacks.

He delivered the same message ahead of the November Tests played during his reign against the likes of New Zealand and the Springboks.

However, Wales have beaten South Africa only once - in 1999, the day the Millennium Stadium was opened - and not beaten the All Blacks since 1953.

Every time you play the All Blacks is a good time because it's a chance. You want to play them because they're one of the best teams in the world

Warren Gatland

Wales' defeats to the All Blacks have included some painful encounters Down Under, but Johnson believes New Zealand are vulnerable due to poor form by Kiwi teams in this year's Super 14.

Gatland responded: "I don't think it matters what New Zealand team they put out. There's a lot been made of their Super 14 teams haven't done as well as they may have done in the past.

"The Crusaders have been a constant there and the Blues and Hurricanes weren't too far away.

"I think the big concern for New Zealand is the injuries that they've picked up with [Andrew] Hore and Ma'a Nonu and Richard Kahui's another injury.

"[Sitiveni] Sivivatu's out for the season, [Mils] Muliaina's thumb injury - he hasn't played much - so there's bit of a concern for some of the experience players that are currently injured.

"Every time you play the All Blacks is a good time because it's a chance. You want to play them because they're one of the best teams in the world."

Gatland says the New Zealand media's pessimism about their nation's current state will motivate Graham Henry's men and that playing Wales in what could be the last Test at Carisbrook could also be a factor.

New Zealand will be without star centre Ma'a Nonu
New Zealand will be without star centre Ma'a Nonu when they play Wales

"We go down there with a chance. It's the last ever game in Carisbrook, possibly [last] Test match there - that's going to be fairly emotional for New Zealand and for the All Blacks.

"If we talk ourselves up - and the New Zealand media are talking Wales up a bit, saying it's a great opportunity - just knowing their psyche, they will use that to really motivate themselves in terms of the backs-against-the-wall stuff.

"So we're very conscious about not giving them anything to talk ourselves up and disregard their ability as a team.

"Because you've only got to look at the history books."

Gatland believes many in Welsh rugby have overlooked the fact that South Africa sent a weakened side when Wales beat them 29-19 in Cardiff in 1999.

However, the Wales coach says no matter who the Springboks field next weekend, the encounter is to be relished.

He said: "It's a great chance for us. They've got world class and World Cup players.


"We've felt against South Africa we've had a couple of opportunities in recent years and we haven't quite taken them.

"And if we can get a full house in the Millennium Stadium in June, a great day with the sun out we can go out and play some positive rugby.

"Ten or 11 years ago, no-one talks about the fact that South Africa left 10 or 11 players at home on that occasion when Wales won.

"So for us, I don't care who we're playing against in terms of individuals - we just want to win.

"And if we can win against South Africa it gives us great confidence going on tour [to New Zealand]."

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see also
Johnson backs Wales in June Tests
27 May 10 |  Welsh
Mitchell in for injured Jenkins
27 May 10 |  Welsh
Boks replace James with De Jongh
03 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Hore injury blow for New Zealand
15 May 10 |  Welsh
Wales excited by new-boy Knoyle
17 May 10 |  Welsh
Powell back for Wales' June Tests
16 May 10 |  Welsh
Gatland considers 50-strong list
30 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Country profile: New Zealand
28 Nov 11 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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