What the Welsh newspapers are saying ahead of the clash at the Millennium Stadium.
The Welsh media is not letting up on the ‘pressure on Gatland’ issue. It’s going to be interesting to see how Wales respond against the Springboks this Saturday. If the local press is to be believed, Gatland’s Wales are unlikely to improve on their one from 27 record against the southern hemisphere giants.
The Wales coaching staff is patently unhappy with the local media. After the defeat to the All Blacks, a BBC reporter asked Gatland about the pressure, and the coach has since complained to her employers. On Tuesday, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards climbed into a journalist who asked if Gatland and the Dragons were under pressure.
Some believe this may work to the hosts’ advantage. ’Gatland’s men can use siege mentality of media row to upset South Africa’ reads a headline in today’s edition of the Western Mail. Simon Thomas says the talk of pressure and the over-the-top reaction from the coaching staff is nothing new.
‘Wales produce a few dodgy performances, the criticism mounts, a few challenging questions get asked and you get a reaction … but it's justifiable to ask Gatland about it in terms of pressure it puts him under as he looks to end his losing sequence when South Africa come to town this weekend’, says Thomas, before explaining his theory about how this could possibly be a good thing.
‘There’s a bit of a siege mentality … the wagons have been circled and the mood is very defensive. From experience that can work to their advantage. You can develop an us versus them mentality that brings the team together and sees them take it out on the opposition. Let’s hope that’s the case this weekend’.
On the back page of the South Wales Echo, Delme Parfitt says the injured George North will be missed. The Wales winger will be ruled out of the clash against the Boks due to concussion. Parfitt expects Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Luke Charteris and Mike Phillips, who are all based in France, to feature in the match 23. This despite the fact the game in Cardiff will take place outside of the international window. The team will be announced later on Thursday.
By Jon Cardinelli