Shape up or pay the price! Wales coach Gatland reads the riot act
Wales head coach Warren Gatland will
start punishing his players for 'totally unnecessary' acts of
indiscipline in the wake of Bradley Davies' Six Nations ban.
The lock has been suspended for the
duration of the tournament for his retaliatory tip tackle on Ireland
flanker Donnacha Ryan and Gatland is considering a range of deterrents
from heavy financial fines to compulsary kit-cleaning ahead of
Scotland's visit to Cardiff on Sunday.
Warning: Wales coach Warren Gatland
'Discipline has been an issue and I've even asked the players to come back with suggestions on what we need to do as a deterrent,' he said.
'I'm not talking about unlucky yellow cards, but ones that are totally unnecessary. I've asked the players to come back to me because at the moment, whatever I'm saying is not working.
'I've criticised players in public and then been criticised for doing so. I've suggested a fine of 30,000 but the players weren't too keen on that. But we need to come up with something.
'Perhaps the player could spend a week visiting schools or doing media every day. I know our kit man is always asking for an extra pair of hands.
'Donnacha Ryan came into the ruck and hit Adam Jones and Bradley reacted. Young men make mistakes and he realised straight away he had made one. Hopefully he will return a better and more composed player.
Yellow peril: Gatland was infuriated by Bradley Davies' reaction
'There's no need for some of these valley boys to try to build up a big macho image. It's also a financial loss for him when you take away match fees and win bonuses. It's a hard lesson he has to learn.'
Scotland know all about hard lessons after losing to England at Murrayfield.
WALES: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, J
Davies, Roberts, North, Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Bennett, A Jones,
R Jones, Evans, Lydiate, Faletau, Warburton (c). Substitutes: Owens,
James, Reed, Powell, L Williams, Hook, Williams.
SCOTLAND: R Lamont, Jones, De Luca, S Lamont, Evans, Laidlaw, Cusiter,
Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Denton, Rennie.
Substitutes: Lawson, Kalman, Kellock, Barclay, Blair, Weir, Hogg.
KO: Sunday, 3pm, Millennium Stadium. TV: Live on BBC1 from 2.30pm.
'The challenge Scotland offer is of desperation,' Gatland said. 'When you look at the stats from Scotland's game last week, territory, possession and line breaks, you wonder how they lost the game.
'They haven't scored in four Tests and have managed only 20 tries in their last 25. We went on a similar spree and it's frustrating. But it's just like a striker in football, once you finish one off you can get back on a roll.'
The build-up to this fixture has been characterised by mixed messages. The roof of the Millennium Stadium will be shut on the request of Scotland coach Andy Robinson and the visitors insist they will play running rugby, which means they are either brave enough or stupid enough to take on Wales at their own game.
Meanwhile, Wales have talked up the physicality of a Scotland side who are apparently more adept at bruising than ballet. We have repeatedly been told how Scotland relish contact, how their set piece can dominate a game and how even the biggest members of Wales' monstrous back line are expecting to get 'smashed up'.
Scotland will surely target the set
piece. The suspension of Davies forces Wales into another reshuffle of
the pack. It puts the lineout under significant strain against second
rows Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton – the heaviest and tallest lock
pairing in the tournament.
Power house: Scotland's David Denton
The absorbing battle of the back rows sees Wales' bucking trio pitched against Scotland No 8 David Denton, the blond bombshell from Zimbabwe who was prolific at Murrayfield against the auld enemy.
It was some performance for a man who was facing England the day before his 22nd birthday, with only 23 previous minutes of Test match experience. He is famously a descendent of Rudyard Kipling but we will find out tomorrow if he can keep his head while all about are losing theirs in the Cardiff cauldron.
Robinson's selection hardly screams a profound change in tactics. Both changes were enforced, Dan Parks by retirement and Euan Murray by religion. If Scotland are to have a chance, new fly-half Greig Laidlaw will need to break the try drought. If Wales hit the heights of Dublin with ball in hand, they might just hit their heads on the Millennium roof.