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Wales Online
Wales Online
Tom Coleman

Today's rugby news as Wales players 'on edge' around Warren Gatland and world star quits overnight

Here's your round-up of all the latest rugby headlines for Thursday, February 3.

Wales players 'on edge' around Gatland

Adam Beard says players in the Wales camp are currently 'on edge' around boss Warren Gatland because they are so eager to impress him ahead of this weekend's Six Nations opener.

Wales kick off their campaign at home to Ireland on Saturday in what will be the first match of Gatland's second stint in charge, and Beard says there's a crackling atmosphere in the camp this week as the players look to meet their coach's expectations.

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"He [Gatland] does a lot on emotions and he’s great at getting the guys up for a Test week," he said. "He’s not focusing too much on the game, but driving standards. There are a lot of boys on edge around him because they just want to raise the bar and impress him. That’s great for the squad because it brings competition for places. It has been a great week of preparation.

"Obviously he has different methods to Wayne in terms of how he presents his stuff and how he speaks in the week. But a lot of the stuff is still the same. They like to bring a lot of stuff we've done through the regions. It isn't too much of a change. That's the challenge with these Six Nations blocks.

"You don't get a lot of time together. You perhaps get one week of learning and then you're into a Test week. You don't want to put too much on the players too early or you can be undercooked. You want to do stuff you've done with a region and then you're flying within that first week. Maybe that's the benefit of having six of the Ospreys pack, we've got that cohesion. We've got a lot of stuff we've worked on previously so we can just get on with it."

Giteau announces retirement

Former Australia star Matt Giteau has announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect, bringing the curtain down on a glittering career.

The 40-year-old made the announcement via social media, declaring he had “milked this game and the contracts dry” having plied his trade in Australia, France, Japan and the US since his debut for the ACT Brumbies in 2002.

Giteau, who played for the Wallabies 103 times, wrote: "Just wanted to announce my retirement from professional rugby union. Half my life spent playing this great game professionally and traveling the world getting to do it. Forever grateful to all my many coaches, staff members, referees and touch judges along the way. And of course a big thank you to my many teammates that helped me play and grow as a player and a person. So many great friendships made and some unbelievable memories created along the way.

"Special mention to my wife and kids who sacrifice so much for me to prepare and play for so long. Moving countries, schools and way from friends so that I could continue to play and chase my dreams. Huge thanks to my parents also, who have travelled the world to support me and the sacrifices they made for me to actually make a career out of this sport. Also my brothers and sister who rode the ups and downs of my career as much as anyone. It's been such an amazing experience and one that I will miss but I have milked this game and the contracts dry. Thank you."

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Wales international tips Ireland to win

Former Wales international James Hook has backed Ireland to emerge from Cardiff with victory on Saturday.

The new era under Warren Gatland could hardly face a sterner start, with Ireland heading into this Six Nations campaign as one of the hot favourites.

And Hook believes they could prove too strong a test on Saturday.

“Wales are up against an excellent team," he told The Mirror. "You look at the way Ireland took apart the All Blacks in the summer. They're so well coached. The creativity in their attack is great to watch and they've ramped their physicality up from what they used to be.

"When they get in the 22 they keep the ball so well and rarely come away without points. I think Ireland will win the tournament - the fixtures fall kindly for them - but this game is massive.

"If they win this game they know they’ve got England and France at home which would be a massive psychological boost. I think Ireland will win by seven points."

Borthwick explains Tuilagi call

Steve Borthwick insists his decision to pick Joe Marchant over Manu Tuilagi was made due to form.

Marchant is set to team up with Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell in midfield against Scotland, which will be Borthwick’s first Test in charge since taking over from Eddie Jones.

Max Malins has also been recalled, but the decision over Tuilagi was perhaps the biggest talking point.

"Max has been wanting that opportunity, he has been playing week in, week out, making things happen, finding space," said Borthwick.

"The same with Joe Marchant. They have been playing well and deserve this chance.

"Manu was the incredible professional that he is. I told him what we’d decided and why and we shook hands and he went and trained really hard."

Read more:

Leigh Halfpenny out of Wales v Ireland as replacement named

Ireland name team to play Wales in Six Nations but suffer huge blow

What time is Wales v Ireland kick-off on Saturday and what TV channel is it on?

Today's rugby news as Ireland dismiss Gatland's claim and Wales team meeting footage emerges

Win one of six Wales shirts for the 2023 Six Nations

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