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Gatland happy to carry pressure of defeats

Warren Gatland scratching chin
Warren Gatland has won six of 19 games since returning as Wales coach [Getty Images]

Warren Gatland says he is ready to carry the pressure of his worst losing run as Wales head coach.

Gatland saw South Africa ease past his makeshift Wales side with a five-try win at Twickenham.

The Test defeat was the seventh in a row for Wales, their longest stretch since losing eight successive games between 2012 and 2013.

Gatland was only in charge for two of those games, as he prepared the British & Irish Lions, but has seen his second stint in charge falter ahead of a two-Test tour to Australia in July.

"I understand how important results are and I'm quite happy for that pressure to come on me rather than the players," he said.

"But we're not focusing on just that [winning] because it can be just another added external pressure.

"We just want players to get better as individuals at this level and making better decisions in this intensity.

"One thing that was really effective at the World Cup was that our sole focus was not purely on winning but on becoming a really hard team to beat and then the results look after themselves.

"There are times when you guys [the media] like to add that pressure from outside [but] I agree 100% international rugby is about winning."

Gatland did go eight Tests without a win between 2010 and 2011, punctuated with a draw against Fiji.

Gatland is by far Wales’ longest-serving coach – in charge for 12 years until he left after the 2019 World Cup only to return at the end of 2022.

During his first spell, he won 85 of the 151 games with a win rate of more than 56%.

However, that rate for his second stint is down to 32% after just six wins from 19 games - including a whitewash during the Six Nations.

He offered his resignation to Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney after that first Wooden Spoon in 21 years, which was turned down.

Gatland has stuck with his plan to blood young talent with four more new caps at Twickenham on Saturday in Ellis Bevan, Eddie James, Jacob Beetham and James Ratti. And he believes that will stand Wales in good stead.

"Absolutely I feel more optimistic about the tour ahead," he said after the South Africa loss.

"There were a lot of positives to take, especially when we were under the pump with two early cards. I think a few calls didn't go our way.

"But we've got to identify certain areas where we can get better. We will look at the impact off the bench but also nailing big moments.

"We were guilty of missing a few opportunities in attack but also we weren't accurate in defence when we got caught out a few times.

"But that is about experience and a lot of players out there will have learned a lot from it."