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Wales have endured the week of hell ahead of their World Cup opener against Georgia – now at last to start a campaign they hope ends in heaven on Monday night here.
The ‘purgatory’ period – as Alun Wyn Jones called it – between Rob Howley being sent home in disgrace for alleged betting offences on Monday, and Stephen Jones arriving to take over the attack job on Tuesday has been tough.
And typically, Wales have had longer to stew on those dramatic events than most with their opening match not until Monday night in Toyota.
Warren Gatland and Wales have endured a week from hell ahead of their World Cup opener
Warren Gatland has seen most things during his three previous World Cups, but never his right-hand man on a plane home before the tournament has even begun.
When put in front of the Press to explain Howley’s departure on Wednesday he looked bereft. By Saturday, he was bullish.
‘I am looking forward to it,’ he said.
‘There was a little bit of edge and niggle at training; to me that’s always a good sign, the players know the game is coming close.
Attack coach Rob Howley was sent home this week over alleged betting offences
‘We are chomping at the bit. We can’t wait for Monday night to come along. That niggle at training was good.
‘I said the players after training “we’ve had our warm-up games – we’re in competition phase now, and that’s when we thrive”.
‘We are Grand Slam champions, had 14 in a row unbeaten and that was because of the way we prepared, mentally how tough we were, our game
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