Liam Williams Wales v Springboks: Warren Gatland happy to be Rugby World Cup semifinal underdogs

Liam Williams This is one huge module!

Warren Gatland says he is delighted that Wales have been cast as underdogs for their Rugby World Cup semifinal against South Africa on Sunday, using his final press conference before arguably the biggest match in the country’s history to encourage any doubters to “continue to write us off” as that will only make his side stronger.

While the build-up to the second last-four clash in Yokohama has lacked the pyrotechnics of today’s first, with Gatland and opposite number Rassie Erasmus playing far nicer than England’s Eddie Jones and New Zealand’s Steve Hansen, the tension has belatedly started to ratchet up.

Liam Williams Wales' Kiwi coach Warren Gatland says he is determined to enjoy the final two matches of his long reign.


Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland says he is determined to enjoy the final two matches of his long reign.

​Gatland threw a mischievous curveball into proceedings on Friday when he brought up a hitherto unnoticed, off-the-ball incident involving Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen.

There is little that can be done about it now, with the window for citings having passed, but by bringing it up, Gatland drew attention to something South Africa would doubtless have preferred to keep out of the public domain.

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It has been a tense 48 hours. Injuries to key players Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa) and Liam Williams (Wales) have been late dramas for both camps, although the fact that Gatland was able to name outside centre Jonathan Davies in his team gave Wales momentum heading into the game.

The British and Irish Lion has been suffering with a knee injury sustained in the pool stages. His inclusion means Wales have their defensive talisman back ahead of what promises to be a hugely physical encounter against the Springboks.

Aside from Davies coming in for Owen Watkin, there were only two other changes to the Wales team that faced France last Sunday.

Leigh Halfpenny replaces Williams, who has been ruled out of next weekend’s final should Wales progress – no replacement has yet been called up – and No 8 Ross Moriarty comes in for Josh Navidi, who likewise has been rule

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