Gatland wary of Les Bleus

Warren Gatland's Wales take on France in a crunch Six Nations encounter on February 21

Warren Gatland's Wales take on France in a crunch Six Nations encounter on February 21

First published in National Sport News © by

Warren Gatland readily accepts that Wales face "a massive game" when they host RBS 6 Nations rivals France next week.

Wales' 26-3 defeat against Ireland in Dublin last Saturday severely dented their hopes of achieving an unprecedented Six Nations title hat-trick this season.

Victory over Les Bleus at the Millennium Stadium would revive title chances, but defeat would leave them four points behind unbeaten France with only two further games remaining.

"I think we can go into that French game with a certain amount of confidence that we are good enough to win at home," Wales head coach Gatland said.

"When they (France) get a few points up, they play with a bit of confidence.

"They took a couple of turnover opportunities against Italy (last Sunday), but the Italians were in the game for long periods, particularly in the first half.

"It was a good win for them and a good confidence boost, with them winning their first two games. For us, the next game at home is a massive game for us."

Lock Luke Charteris and flanker Justin Tipuric are among those being touted for call-ups against France.

It is also feasible that wing George North could move to outside centre if Scott Williams does not recover in time from a shoulder injury and Jonathan Davies is not ready as he continues his fitness fight after suffering pectoral muscle damage during the autumn Test series opener against South Africa three months ago.

Wales captain Sam Warburton and prop Gethin Jenkins, meanwhile, are among 10 players who will be released to their regional teams for RaboDirect PRO12 action later this week.

Warburton made his first start in more than two months after recovering from a shoulder injury against Ireland, and Jenkins, who also started at the Aviva Stadium, is another player who has lacked game-time due to injury.

Reflecting on the Ireland loss, Gatland added: "When you lose games, the critics out there come and say they think they know the way we are playing.

"But the two games we have played, we have played differently in both games. We haven't gone with the same game plan against Ireland as we did against Italy.

"People want to be critical and say it was the same and where is your Plan B? Well, we didn't even execute Plan A (against Ireland).

"If you get those things wrong in terms of where we were dominated, Plan A, B or Z wouldn't have made any difference to the result. We just weren't good enough on the day.

"It doesn't matter what type of game you play when you concede the number of points we did at driven lineouts and you play that poorly. You do that, and you are going to lose the game. We didn't deserve to win the game."

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