Warren Gatland pushing Wales players to the limit ahead of Rugby World Cup
Last Updated: 30/07/15 4:08pm
Warren Gatland admits he has pushed his Wales players to the limit as he leaves no stone unturned in preparations for the Rugby World Cup.
The Welsh team have embarked on two different training camps - one to Switzerland where they trained at high altitude in the mountains and the other to Qatar where they endured gruelling conditioning sessions in extreme heat and humidity.
The squad is now back on home soil and Gatland is confident his players are ready to peak when the tournament begins in September.
“For this World Cup, we have tried to do things a little bit differently by going to Switzerland and Qatar and pushing the players mentally and physically,” Gatland told Sky Sports News HQ.
We came away from the two camps incredibly impressed. We knew we had pushed them physically and mentally to the limit.
“In Qatar, we wanted to take the players out of their comfort zone and put them under heat stress. Hopefully we will get the benefits of that when we come back here where it is not quite so warm.
“In Switzerland it was about the altitude - going up there and increasing the red blood cells and trying to get the benefit of that. Again, we wanted to take the players out of their comfort zone.
"They had to dig very deep. We came away from the two camps incredibly impressed. We knew we had pushed them physically and mentally to the limit.
"We try to make training and the preparation harder than games so from now on, as we go into a different phase in terms of warm-up games, we'll have done a lot of the conditioning and that is in the bank.
"That is something that will give the players a huge amount of confidence going into the next 50 days until the kick-off of the World Cup."
The form of Northampton star George North is something of a mystery entering the World Cup as the winger has not seen competitive action since sustaining his third concussion in four months against Wasps in March.
Gatland admits the Welsh staff have been cautious about exposing him to physical contact but revealed he is in peak shape and he expects the 23-year-old to make a big impact on the tournament.
"He is good. We haven’t had a lot of contact work so obviously we knew he had a couple of knocks at the end of last season and it kept him out of rugby," Gatland said.
"We are conscious of that. He’s trained incredibly and looks in great shape at the moment like a lot of players. We are looking forward to what sort of impact he is going to have on this World Cup."
Gatland was less positive about the health of tighthead prop Samson Lee who is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury sustained in Wales' Six Nations win over Ireland.
"He has been doing pretty well," Gatland revealed. "It is going to be touch and go in terms of the World Cup squad.
"We may have to go into it taking him as an injured player and hope he is going to be okay by the second or third game or something like that. So, it is a little bit touch and go with him."
Gatland also confirmed Scarlets full-back Liam Williams will miss Wales’ three warm-up games against Ireland (home and away) and Italy as he continues his recovery from foot surgery.