Six Nations
Gatland: Welsh politics no issue for side
ESPN Staff
January 15, 2014
Sam Warburton is just one of a group of players who are yet to decide on where their future lies © Getty Images

Wales boss Warren Gatland is adamant his side can put the internal politics of Welsh rugby to one side as they focus on trying to win the Six Nations for the third year running.

The Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions are currently involved in a bitter battle as they seek to thrash out plans for the domestic game. A number of Wales' top players are out of contract at the end of the season and some have admitted the uncertainty facing the regions is proving to be a distraction.

However, Gatland believes his side have the mental strength to put that to one side.

"We know there are some politics going on at the moment, but we will put that to one side, come together as a group and focus on the rugby and what we can control," Gatland said. "We have got an opportunity to create history, and that is something we will focus on and something that will give us extra motivation.

"We have got the three games at home and two tough away games (against Ireland and England), but when we won the Grand Slam in 2008 and 2012 we had these fixtures, so we know it can be done.

"The Six Nations is always a tough competition. You need a little bit of luck and momentum, and that's why we need to start well against Italy first up."

Gatland named his 32-man squad for the Six Nations on Monday and Ryan Jones was included. Jones, who has captained Wales on 33 occasions, admitted the current situation is far from ideal.

"Sadly what is going on is distracting everything that is good about Welsh rugby," Jones told the BBC. "We are possibly on the verge of making history and that could get lost in everything else that is going on.

"We have a group of players, management and support staff who are solely focused on one outcome. What goes on in a boardroom in Cardiff really can have no affect - the only thing we can do is do our best on the field.

"We can only try to do our bit, at club or international level, to keep it in the limelight for the right reasons and on track to be great again."

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