Wales v South Africa, Millennium Stadium, June 5
Gatland predicts 'golden era'
June 5, 2010
Warren Gatland has predicted a new 'golden era' for Wales © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that the next five years could become another 'golden era' for Welsh rugby, starting with Saturday's showdown with South Africa in Cardiff.
A frustrating Six Nations campaign has been played down by the former Wasps coach, who hopes that success for the regions will filter through to international level. After tackling the Springboks this weekend Gatland will have a chance to press his claim in a two-Test series against the All Blacks, beginning on June 19.
"I honestly feel that between now and 2015 could be a real golden era for Welsh rugby - the regions doing well, the international team doing well," he said. "We have got exciting and talented youngsters coming through, while physically we have got a lot of players who are in very good shape.
"Just looking at the ages of the players, there are some really experienced players who are going to be around for a long time yet. This is a stronger squad than we had in the autumn - it's the strongest Welsh team to tour in a few years."
Despite a number of disappointing injury problems, with wing Shane Williams and prop Gethin Jenkins ruled out of the summer schedule, the camp is in good spirits after Cardiff Blues secured the European Challenge Cup and the Ospreys the Magners League title.
"For both Cardiff and the Ospreys to win trophies last month is a real confidence-booster," Gatland said. "It is fantastic that both teams won - they have been knocking on the door for a while. Psychologically, it is great that they won away from home at difficult places.
"It gets a monkey off your back, and it becomes a catalyst - you are not afraid to win any more, and it breeds confidence and self-belief. I remember when I was with with Wasps and when we were involved in Europe. We hadn't really beaten a big team away, and then we went and won in France.
"Suddenly, the players were confident and backed themselves to win away from home against very good teams. That's a fantastic position to be in, and I would like to see us repeat that now at international level."