Rugby World Cup 2011
Gatland talks up Wales' chances
ESPNscrum Staff
September 3, 2011
Wales head coach and Kiwi Warren Gatland returns to him homeland, Wellington Airport, Wellington, New Zealand, September 2, 2011
Wales boss Warren Gatland is looking forward to his side's tournament opener against the Springboks © Getty Images

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is savouring the fact that his side will kick off their World Cup campaign against South Africa.

An opening game against the defending champions hardly seems ideal but while Gatland is full of respect for the Springboks, the New Zealander feels that Wales are perfectly primed to catch Peter de Villiers' men cold in Wellington on Sunday week.

"They (South Africa) are very good at what they do," he said. "They put the ball up in the air and use power runners. We pretty well know what we are going to get.

"They'll play to their strengths and that's what they are good at doing. They are certainly a hard side to beat. But playing them first up in this competition is a great opportunity for us.

"It's been a great couple of months having the players together as a squad and we are pretty happy with the way the August games went. We are really in pretty good shape.

"The last three times we have played them there's been very little in the scores. We have scored them seven tries to six. Now we've just got to get over the final hurdle and get that win.

"We can match their forwards. We are going to put out the strongest side we can. I don't think that in the last few times we've played them we have been far away from them as a team."

Gatland is reluctant to look beyond their opener against the Boks but he is in no doubt that he is in command of a squad of players capable of reaching the last four.

"It's one game at a time for us and we have got a squad capable of winning these games," he said. "If we can get out of the group stage then we are in good shape for the quarters and even the semis."

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