No Gatland-and-Hansen war of words sequel
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Warren Gatland has urged Wales to be wary of New Zealand's 'X-factor' instead of his sideshow with counterpart Steve Hansen.
The dynamic between the two coaches has taken the centre stage ahead of Saturday's Test match in Cardiff.
However, this week, the Wales boss Gatland has moved quickly to halt all media speculations of animosity between the two New Zealanders ahead of the Cardiff Test match.
Gatland and Hansen's relationship hit an all-time low during the British and Irish Lions tour against New Zealand in June.
The war of words produced themes like the one-dimensional 'Warrenball', while Gatland accused the All Blacks of foul play during the 15-30 defeat.
The media just added oil to the flames by depicting Gatland as a clown in one of the newspapers, which left him "hating" the tour despite the Lions' exceeding expectations with a 1-1 Series draw.
"People are trying to make something out of myself and Steve," he said.
"I've got a lot of respect for him. I look forward to catching up with him after the game. We all understand the pressures that we're under,"
"There was some pretty underhand stuff going on and it was challenging," referring to the media attacks during the June Test series.
"However, if there's criticism of me this week, I won't be responding to it because there's no point, you can't win," he added.
The All Blacks will play their final game of a long season without the injured Rieko Ioane and Luke Romano and their head coach Steve Hansen has already lost the experience of Brodie Retallick, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Joe Moody.
"I've never seen an All Black team that's been vulnerable," Gatland said.
"The All Blacks have made comments themselves that they have dominated the game for too long.
"People want to see the All Blacks come under pressure and teams pushing them close. We've seen that in the last few weeks with Australia beating them in Brisbane. I think that's good for rugby.
"We want to see those close contests where teams that perform on the day are able to push the number one team in the world really closely,"
Wales are assessing the fitness of Liam Williams who has been struggling with an abdominal problem, but Justin Tipuric is back in training ahead of this weekend.
Prop Samson Lee is unlikely to feature due to an Achilles injury.
Wales have lost all 10 clashes to the All Blacks under Gatland and the last time Wales beat the All Blacks was in 1953.
"There are games against them in the past where we've been in front at halftime, so it has been frustrating at times.
"As Wales coach, right from day one, the mantra has always been that we will take the opportunity to play New Zealand, South Africa or Australia.
"It's the only way a country with a playing base this small can improve and get better. You've got to play against the best players in the world,"
Source: @rugbycomau & @welshrugbyunion