Changes unlikely for Wales
Wales coach Warren Gatland will not tinker too much with his side after their impressive display against South Africa.
Last Updated: 13/09/11 4:14pm
Wales coach Warren Gatland is not likely to make wholesale for his side's clash with Samoa in Hamilton after their impressive display against South Africa.
Wales came agonisingly close to clinching a memorable victory against the defending world champions, losing by the narrowest of margins in Wellington on Sunday.
Gatland's men were back on the training field on Tuesday following the 17-16 defeat, with an open practice watched by several hundred locals in Taupoon.
And Welsh fans were encouraged by the welcome sight of Gethin Jenkins and Stephen Jones participating in the session.
Prop Jenkins and fly-half Jones appear to be winning their battles against calf muscle injuries and look well on course to feature in Wales' pool stage programme.
"Gethin will start training this week, and he's confident he will be available," said Gatland. "We thought our scrum was excellent against South Africa, but we know what a world-class player Gethin is.
"It's perhaps about thinking how much game-time do we try to give him before the quarter-finals."
Despite a superb performance against the Springboks, Gatland rued a number of missed opportunities that could have seen his side achieve a very different outcome.
And the coach insisted there was still room for improvement against a Samoan outfit with a reputation for causing upsets.
"In the past, what we have been able to demonstrate is that we've been able to get better as a team as tournaments or tours have gone on," he added.
"We've got to make sure we are better in Hamilton on Sunday. At the highest level, you have got to take every opportunity that is presented to you.
"We had a couple of opportunities against South Africa, and we didn't quite nail them. We had 60% territory and possession.
"Against South Africa, we normally rely on getting 40 or 45%, if we are lucky, because they tend to dominate, but our scrum was good and our lineout was excellent."
But Gatland drew huge encouragement from the reaction of his players to the defeat and is confident they will pull together ahead of Sunday's showdown.
"I was really impressed by the players afterwards," he continued. "There were four of five them who felt some of the loss at the end was their responsibility. That was pleasing from an individual point of view.
"It's massive within this team. Guys being disappointed, putting their hand up and taking responsibility for some of the errors or mistakes they make.
"That, to me, is a huge sign in the development of this team. We went into that game absolutely believing we were good enough to win.
"Unfortunately, we lost by a point, and we have got to pick ourselves up from that and start thinking about Samoa."