VIDEO: 'We didn't really want to get into a fight today'
REACTION: Warren Gatland declared himself ‘pretty pleased’ with the how Wales was placed for the World Cup.
This, despite his team’s 10-19 loss to Ireland – their third loss in four warm-up Tests.
The 55-year-old New Zealander – who brings down the curtain at the end of the tournament on a 12-year tenure which has yielded three Six Nations Grand Slams – said his side had wanted to avoid getting into a “fight” in their last match before they fly off to Japan for the sport’s quadrennial showpiece.
Gatland, who will coach Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs post-World Cup but take a year off from August 2020 for his third spell as British & Irish Lions handler, professed himself happy despite two back to back losses to the Irish and a heavy defeat by England – although the Welsh beat the English in the return fixture.
“It’s been good,” said Gatland.
“We’ve tried to go out there and be positive in the way we play. I’m generally pretty pleased.
“We didn’t really want to get into a fight today [Saturday], that sort of game.”
Gatland could not resist a dig at Ireland’s style of play – he and his rival head coach Joe Schmidt have sparred over this down the years – saying they had given Wales’s first World Cup opponents Georgia on September 23 a heads up on tactics to use.
“Ireland has given Georgia a template of how to play against us,” he said.
“It’s difficult to stop a team like that, when they’re good at the breakdown and got collision dominance.
“They were effective at it in the second half. They went to the air well.
“They choked us to death.”
Gatland, who said he expected flyhalf Rhys Patchell to be on the plane despite failing a Head Injury Assessment in the first half, said the result did not worry him as overall the performance had pleased him.
“Not at all, really,” he said of the result.
“That’s what these games are all about.
“We tried some things, some different combinations, different players.
“The turnover rate was disappointing, but we showed some great character at the end of the game.”
Gatland, who has never got over the manner in which he was sacked as Ireland head coach by the IRFU in 2001, said he had been impressed by the character shown by his team even though the scrum was under the cosh from the Irish throughout the second-half.
“We conceded three tries which is disappointing but we didn’t concede at the end with 14 men [Adam Beard was sin-binned three minutes from time],” said Gatland.
“We could have easily folded with that level of territory and possession.
“Teams have capitulated with that amount of pressure. We didn’t do that.”
Whilst Gatland expects Patchell to be fit – he had concussion last season – he took issue with the directive from World Rugby about tackling lower, as the flyhalf suffered the blow to the head when he tackled Christiaan Stander.
“Yeah he does,” Gatland said of Patchell deserving some luck.
“He’s gone a little bit low where he’s probably got that knock.
“The ironic thing with World Rugby is they’re keeping the tackles down, but most concussions come from the tackler going low and hitting knees and hips.
“It’s one aspect we need to continue to work on for the defensive player as well.”
Gatland, who guided his side to the 2011 World Cup semifinals where they pushed France all the way despite playing with 14 men for most of the match, admitted he had not shown all his cards in the warm-up matches.
“You hold a little bit back and you work on a few things. That’s important. These are warm-up games, not a Six Nations game where it matters about winning.”