TOYOTA CITY, Japan (Reuters) - Warren Gatland says his Wales side will have a few new tricks up their sleeve when they play Australia in what is potentially a Rugby World Cup Pool D decider at the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.
Wales were superb in the first half of their 43-14 victory over Georgia on Monday as they scored four tries to lead 29-0 at the break, but showed little of the same endeavour and ambition in the second period.
It led to suggestions that, with the bonus-point wrapped up, Wales held back some of the play-book they will unleash on the Australians. While Gatland said this was not true, he conceded there is more to see from his side.
“I don’t think we tried to hide any moves in the second half,” he told reporters. “We spoke about being smart, and in the second half the ball got slippery and there was moisture, so handling for both teams was quite tough.
“We do have a few things up our sleeve next week. It’s tough with a six-day turnaround. We’ve got to make sure we recover well and then start really planning.”
Gatland believed their second half slump was more to do with the loss of continuity after making changes off the bench.
“The first half was clinical, but we let things slip a little bit in the second. We lost some continuity by making some changes with the subs, but we are trying to keep the players as fresh as we can,” he added.
The Wales coach was impressed with the way Australia held off a stern challenge from Fiji to win their opening game 39-21.
“Australia soaked up a lot of pressure as Fiji came flying out the blocks and were very impressive. They managed the game exceptionally well in the tight and Fiji then started to tire,” he said.
Wales beat Australia 9-6 in their previous meeting in November, but had lost 13 games in a row to the Wallabies before that.
Gatland also said that the next 24 hours are crucial for his lock Cory Hill, who must prove his recovery from an ankle injury and stress fracture in his leg, or face being sent home from the World Cup.
“We will assess him tomorrow and see his progress. If it is not good news he will go back, but if they think they can get him to recover, he will stay out here,” Gatland added.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge