November 24, 2018 / 11:20 PM / 17 days ago

Clean-sweep success won't go to our heads, says Gatland

Rugby Union - Wales v South Africa - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - November 24, 2018 Wales head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Coach Warren Gatland said Wales would not get complacent after a record-setting night on Saturday saw them achieve a first clean sweep of their November internationals as well as a ninth successive test victory to confirm them as credible World Cup contenders.

“We’re not getting too carried away. We’ll just keep our head down, work hard and start thinking about the Six Nations,” he said after the 20-11 win over South Africa at the Principality Stadium underlined Wales’ status as the world’s third-ranked team.

The long-standing Welsh coach, who departs after the 2019 tournament, added: “It’s my last 12 months and I’d like to finish on a high.” Wales solid defence and intelligent play suggested Gatland could well see his wish fulfilled.

“We’ve got a good group of players that the public should be really proud of. The way they conduct themselves, prepare and train - they’ve been outstanding,” he said.

Wales beat Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa in their unprecedented November sweep, with Saturday’s win the toughest as they were put under pressure for large parts of the game after scoring two early tries.

“It was the toughest game we’ve played this autumn. When you play the best teams in the world you can get exposed,” Gatland added.

“There is some game management we can improve. The good thing with these guys is they can dig themselves into a hole and then get out of it. We’re in a good place at the moment. That’s a nice feeling in the changing room. But we know there’s a lot of work to do.”

Wales, who have beaten South Africa in their last four meetings, next tackle France in Paris at the start of Six Nations on February 1.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; editing by Tony Lawrence mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com; +27828257807

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