(Reuters) - Wales coach Warren Gatland reiterated his commitment to the job on Tuesday and said he believed his team could win the 2019 World Cup.
The New Zealander, Wales coach since 2007, also played down suggestions he is only seeing out the rest of his contract in order to claim a lucrative loyalty bonus.
“There’s always speculation when someone says have you been in the job too long. I get asked questions and it gets spun around that I’ve come out and said it. I’ve always tried to be honest and give an opinion,” he told a news conference on Tuesday as Wales begin to prepare for November internationals against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Gatland, who led the British and Lions to a drawn series in New Zealand this year, raised questions about his tenure with Wales when he said recently he may have been in the job too long.
“I’m 100 percent committed to Wales,” he said. “The focus is on winning the World Cup and I need to stress that we can win it. We know we have to not pick up too many injuries. We should go in with experience and exciting youngsters, a great balance.”
Four internationals in Cardiff next month, the first on Nov. 11 against the Wallabies, will give Wales a good indication of their potential.
Wales will have a training scrimmage in Bristol on Monday with the England squad in an unusual approach to preparations for the Six Nations rivals.
“The England plan originated from a conversation I had with Steve Borthwick (England’s forwards coach) a few weeks ago. He asked if we’d be interested in doing it and meeting halfway. We’ll train in Bristol Monday morning and we’re looking forward to it,” Gatland said.
“It will be well managed, we’re doing some lineouts and a good scrummaging session which has to be controlled. We don’t want collapsed scrums. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this earlier. It will give us a good feel of where we’re at ahead of Australia.”
Reporting by Mark Gleeson,; Editing by Ed Osmond