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Gatland wants young Wales side to 'arm wrestle' 

SPOTLIGHT: Under pressure Wales head coach Warren Gatland says his inexperienced side must learn how to handle pressure after going down to Australia which marked their eighth defeat in a row, but he is confident they can turn the corner.

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Wales lost 25-16 to a new-look Australia outfit in Sydney on Saturday.

This result marked their longest run without a victory since 2012 when Gatland took charge for the first time.

His assessment of the result is that it’s ‘just where we are at the moment’.

Wales have a chance for redemption to level the series in Melbourne next week to stop the rot, with Gatland saying they need to stay in the ‘arm wrestle’.

“The way the boys have trained this week and the buzz around them, they’ve been outstanding,” he said.

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“We know we’re going through a process playing at the highest level, which is about learning to handle some pressure. It’s just staying in the arm wrestle.

“That takes a little bit of time in terms of on-the-field stuff.

“I have been through that with other teams in the past,” he added.

“Once you get across the line, players in the team learn that understanding and turn those games that are close into wins. That’s what we’ve got to work through at the moment.”

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Gatland’s squad is relatively inexperienced for this series as he continues to rebuild after the retirement of players such as Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny, and George North.

It’s been a difficult ride post the 2023 World Cup with eight losses, including finishing at the bottom of the Six Nations tournament for the first time since 2003.

Gatland is adamant that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“When you win once, you build confidence and learn how to close out games,” he said.

“There’s a lot of inexperienced players who are going through that process.

“It’s about taking the lessons from tonight (Saturday) and applying them, saying where can I improve my game and be better next week.”

On the other side of the spectrum – Australia showed promising signs in their first match under new head coach Joe Schmidt, as they look to turn the corner after a disastrous run under Eddie Jones.

With seven debutants, which included two starters and five playing off the bench, there were plenty of positives for Schmidt’s side despite not having a perfect performance, outscoring Wales by three tries to one.

“A win is really important, and it always is because that’s what you get judged on externally,” said Schmidt, who has only had the team together for two weeks.

“I think some of those moments that we did really well to earn that one, that’ll be the focus for us this week building into Melbourne.

“We have a few things that are a little different from how teams have played in Super Rugby so the adjustment time for that to become second nature is inevitably going to take time.”

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