Gatland delivers some devastating injury news
REACTION: Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted that the 43-19 victory over Georgia on Saturday was “not pretty”, but added it was a case of “job done” as his team now focuses on a World Cup quarterfinal next weekend.
Louis Rees-Zammit scored a second-half hat-trick of tries and Sam Costelow, a last-minute stand-in for the injured Gareth Anscombe, booted 13 points to settle Welsh nerves against a game Georgian team in Nantes.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Gatland said.
“Even though we weren’t at our best, we got the job done. We’ll now focus on next weekend.”
But there was bad news after emblematic No.8 Taulupe Faletau was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a broken arm.
“Toby’s broken his arm so he’ll be out,” Gatland said.
“It’s a big loss for us.”
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Anscombe will be assessed over the next 72 hours.
“He pulled his groin high up. Liam Williams got a whack on the knee. Hopefully he’ll be fit for the quarterfinal”.
Wales’ victory in Nantes saw them top Pool C with 19 from a maximum of 20 points, having started with a 32-26 win over Fiji before seeing off Portugal 28-8 and sailing past Australia 40-6.
Wales will now play the winners of the showdown between Argentina and Japan, who play in Nantes on Sunday, in the quarterfinals in Marseille next weekend.
“We got the job done and we can start focusing on the quarter-final,” Gatland said.
“We won the pool in 2019, so to repeat that, from where we were, it’s a lot of credit to the players, coaches and support staff.
“We’ve got to be proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Pace and skill
Gatland is back at the helm for a second tenure with Wales, having overseen three Six Nations Grand Slams and two World Cup semifinal appearances in his first between 2007-19.
He took over from Wayne Pivac with Welsh rugby riven by problems, but Gatland has turned the fortunes of the team around.
Gatland also heaped praise on Rees-Zammit, while adding that he would still like to see the wing with more ball in hand.
“You see the pace he’s got, he’s very skilful with the chip and chase,” the Kiwi said.
“He’s still a player with a huge amount of potential.
“We think he can get better and better. It’s really exciting for us.”
The defeat consigned Georgia – who registered a 15-35 loss to Australia, an 18-18 draw with Portugal and a 12-17 defeat by Fiji – to a fourth-place finish in the pool, which means they miss out on an automatic qualification for the 2027 World Cup.
Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili said he was “very disappointed”.
“We had objectives: to win two matches, but we didn’t achieve that,” he said.
“We never gave up and we were always on the pitch to win, but unfortunately we couldn’t display our best capacities.
“I thought we played some good rugby, but it just didn’t show in the results.”
Turning to Wales, Maisashvili said: “You can’t forget we were facing one of the best teams in the world and we wish them good luck for the future.”