This group of players is capable of winning the World Cup in 2015
Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that his contract extension will give his side a better chance of winning the World Cup in 2015.
The victorious British and Irish Lions mentor committed himself to Wales until after the 2019 in Japan this week, which he hopes will encourage a settled environment as his team look to challenge for the highest honour in the game in 2015.
Gatland told the Daily Post that there is a real belief within the squad that they can improve on their third-place in 2011 when the global showpiece gets underway in 2015.
“Even speaking to the players now, they are talking about 2015 and the excitement.
“There’s a real belief that might not have been there that this group of players is capable of winning the World Cup in 2015 or in 2019.
“Psychologically that’s a massive turnaround for me," he said.
The former Ireland coach explained that without any speculation over his future, his side will be able to focus fully on the task at hand in two years time.
"For the players knowing there isn’t all that press speculation about what’s going to happen after 2015, am I going to stay on, where am I going, what am I doing, that takes a little bit of worry away from them, or the focus almost.
“Sometimes that can be a disruption, so I’m looking at this as a positive for myself, the team and for Wales as a whole in terms of knowing where we’re going,” he said.
He expects the team to develop further over the next two years with new players coming in and gaining experience, which should set them up well for the World Cup in England.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done over the last six years, but for me the job feels only half done.
“We’ve got quite a few youngsters coming through, with the age profile of the squad at the moment.
“And we honestly feel as a team that we’re capable of continuing to improve, doing well at 2015 and hopefully onwards to 2019 as well.
“For me it’s about hopefully leaving a legacy in terms of what we’ve created, and trying to look for consistency," he said.
He added that there is now a real belief in the team that they can mix it with the best sides in the world consistently.
“We know we’ve got a small playing base, but we think we punch massively above our weight with the other major nations.
“But we want to get away from previous years where it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and build consistency in performances.
“It doesn’t mean you end up winning all the time, but making sure you don’t end up with people speculating about false dawns, followed by really poor performances.
“That’s been an aim for us, and we feel like we can continue to keep improving,” he said.