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Before Warren Gatland sat down to deliver his final messages before Wales’ World Cup semi-final against South Africa, the mood felt dark as the skies outside.
The WRU had just confirmedSportsmail’sstory that Liam Williams, the superstar full back, was out of the tournament with an ankle injury suffered in training.
Earlier in the week it was revealed flanker Josh Navidi was crocked too and with worries over a patched-up Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes a nation was nervous. Would it be like 2015 again? An injury-ravaged team in red losing out to beasts in green? That would be cruel.
Wales coach Warren Gatland insists his side can thrive off being labelled the underdogs
But even the most downbeat Welshman or woman privy to the 19-minute performance Gatland gave in front of the world’s press would have been stirred into believing.
For the last 11-and-three-quarter years, it feels as if Gatland, now 56, has been trying to inject faith into a rugby land. In late 2007, when he took the job, Wales were ranked 10th in the world.
Next weekend they could sit atop the lot. And knowing the next seven days will be his last with his adopted nation, Gatland picked up his wand again in order to try to cast a spell over a pessimistic nation.
Gatland stressed that getting to the final with Wales resources would be ‘unbelievable’
‘They are things you have to dream about,’ he said in Wales’ Tokyo hotel, having brought Leigh Halfpenny in for Williams, Ross Moriarty for Navidi and confirming the fitness of his centres.
‘One of the things about me is that I’m probably the greatest optimist in terms of believing something is possible. And that there is a dream.
‘If you don’t have that attitude and portray it, it
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