Andy Farrell is expected to be named British and Irish Lions head coach for the 2025 tour to Australia on Thursday.

A month after agreeing a contract to remain in charge of Ireland until the end of the 2027 World Cup, Farrell is set to be confirmed as Warren Gatland’s successor in the Lions role at a lunchtime press conference in central London.

The 48-year-old Englishman is seen as the outstanding candidate for one of the game’s most prestigious posts, having masterminded last year’s Grand Slam and an historic 2-1 series victory in New Zealand in 2022.

Ireland also enjoyed a lengthy stay at the summit of the world rankings under his guidance until they were forced into second place by repeat World Cup winners South Africa last autumn.

Farrell would be leading the Lions for the first time, having impressed as an assistant coach under Gatland on the 2013 and 2017 tours, and his appointment would have the blessing of the Irish Rugby Football Union.

“We’d be ecstatic if Andy was named coach of the Lions so hopefully that accolade is the next one for him,” IRFU performance director David Nucifora said in December.

In addition to his management credentials, Farrell has the benefit of coaching the nation that is expected to provide the bulk of the touring party unless England, Scotland or Wales threaten Ireland’s ascendancy over the next 18 months.


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The dual code international won eight caps as a centre in 2007 following his move from Wigan rugby league club and then moved into coaching, first with Saracens and then with England, serving as an assistant under Stuart Lancaster.

He joined Ireland after the 2015 World Cup and succeeded Joe Schmidt as their head coach four years later.

An inspirational figure, he has yet to experience series defeat with the Lions having helped clinch a 2-1 victory over Australia in 2013 and a drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.

He was unavailable for the most recent tour to South Africa due to his commitments with Ireland but there is no objection this time from the IRFU, which is likely to grant him a sabbatical.

It will be the first time the Lions have been led by anyone other than Gatland since 2009, with Wales’ Kiwi boss having already ruled himself out of the running.

Next year’s tour schedule launches against Western Force on June 28, with the first Test taking place in Brisbane on July 19.

Warren Gatland was appointed Wales head coach on this day in 2007 as Welsh rugby looked to rebuild following their early World Cup exit.

A 38-34 defeat to Fiji 41 days earlier saw Wales knocked out at the group stage in France, with Gareth Jenkins sacked the following morning.

The Welsh Rugby Union launched a global search for his replacement and the process led them 12,000 miles away to a former hooker who had played 17 non-international matches for New Zealand but never won a Test cap.

Gatland had impressed during a three-year spell in charge of Ireland between 1998 and 2001, just missing out on the Six Nations title in his final year as England held a superior points difference.

He also led Wasps to three Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup between 2002 and 2005 before returning to his homeland to coach Waikato.

After signing an initial four-year contract with Wales, Gatland said: “I feel tremendous pride in coaching Wales and gratitude at the chance to work at the highest level.

“Wales is the sleeping giant of world rugby, I want to achieve potential.”

Gatland made an immediate impact as he led Wales to Grand Slam success in 2008, an achievement he would repeat in 2012 and 2019.

In doing so, Gatland became the first coach to win three Grand Slams in the Five or Six Nations era.

Gatland’s initial 12-year reign also saw Wales reach the semi-finals of the 2011 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.

He was reappointed to the role in December 2022 and Wales reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup the following year, where they lost 29-17 to Argentina.

Warren Gatland has underlined the importance of patience as he nurtures a new generation of Wales international players.

Welsh rugby bid farewell to three of its biggest names – Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny – in a tribute game that saw Wales beat Principality Stadium opponents the Barbarians 49-26.

Fly-half Dan Biggar stepped down after the Rugby World Cup, meaning that Wales boss Gatland has lost more than 500 caps-worth of experience this year, with scrum-half Rhys Webb also exiting international rugby.

Influential backs Liam Williams and Gareth Anscombe, meanwhile, will be unavailable for the Six Nations this season as they embark on new club careers in Japan.

But fresh faces have already emerged – players like captain Jac Morgan, Sam Costelow, Dewi Lake, Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza, who all have a World Cup in the locker.

And there are others who did not make Gatland’s squad cut for France who could be banging on his door sooner rather than later.

“We are pretty excited about some of the youngsters coming through,” Gatland said.

“You have got to be patient with them, you have got to go through a little bit of pain.

“Probably some of the symmetry between the (Welsh) regions and us hasn’t been the same.

“Unfortunately, we have probably used the national team almost as a pathway (in) that we have developed those players through playing international rugby almost out of necessity because we’ve had a weakness in some positions.

“Then, because they end up playing international rugby and doing well, they then go back and they start for their regions. We have sometimes got that wrong.

“It is just making sure we work together as the regions and the national team in terms of where we have got holes and developing players.

“I have long been an advocate of foreign players. I think they are good for the game, especially here in Wales.

“But I’ve always said we need to get world-class foreign players, and if we need to pay a lot of money for them then we should do that.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve tended to do is get middle-of-the-road journeymen who are 27 or 28, or even older, who have tended to stop the development of some of the youngsters. For the regions and for us, we need to get that right.

“We know the financial situation. We all go through some pain as a national set-up, but now is the right time to do that and then think, what could the picture look like in a couple of years?”

A year that started with Wales being riddled by off-field issues that unquestionably contributed to a dismal Six Nations campaign, ended through five wins out of six and a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final appearance.

The next World Cup cycle, culminating in Australia 2027, is now under way, and centre George North will be part of that conversation moving forward.

North, who has played in four World Cups, will be 35 if he makes the squad for Down Under, but he has already indicated that he has no current plans to follow some of his former team-mates into Test retirement.

Gatland added: “He and I have had a good chat and he wants to continue being available at the moment.

“He has been playing for a long time – since he was 18 – but he does have that experience and leadership, and he brings a voice to us.

“He is probably more important for us in the short-term, and then it is whether he makes that decision on whether he can keep going on through another cycle.

“Next World Cup, he will be 35. Whether he can get that far or not, if he is going to try and do that I am comfortable with that. It is just making sure we keep talking.”

Warren Gatland has backed Andy Farrell to be the next British and Irish Lions head coach after ruling himself out of the running for the 2025 tour of Australia.

New Zealander Gatland, who late last year returned for a second spell as Wales boss, has overseen the last three Lions tours.

Farrell was on Sunday named World Rugby coach of the year after leading Ireland to a Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam amid a 17-match winning run.

“A few weeks ago, I was asked by Nigel Walker, Wales’ director of rugby, if I was interested in putting my name forward to be head coach for the next tour in Australia in 2025,” Gatland wrote in his column for the Telegraph.

“It did not take long to get back to him.

“I told him I was not going to put my name forward. I told Nigel that I would have no problem if any of my support staff were to be asked to be involved as I would see it as a great experience for them.

“But I think it is the opportunity now for someone else to be head coach and Andy Farrell would have my backing for the job.

“You cannot deny what Ireland have achieved as a nation over the last few years. There is no doubt that Andy has done a fantastic job.”

Gatland led the Lions to a 2-1 win in Australia in 2013, a drawn series in New Zealand in 2017 and a 2-1 defeat in South Africa in 2021.

Farrell was part of the 60-year-old’s coaching staff for the first two of those three tours.

The 48-year-old Englishman’s stock has risen significantly over the past couple of years, albeit Ireland suffered a quarter-final exit at the Rugby World Cup in France following a 28-24 defeat to runners-up New Zealand.

Gatland, who also assisted Sir Ian McGeechan on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa, offered to support his successor in an advisory capacity.

“If the next head coach wants to tap into my experiences from the last four tours, then I would still love to be involved in some way by passing on the knowledge and experience I have gained in trying to create harmony within a group of players from different backgrounds,” he continued.

“For the Lions, it is the least I can do.”

Wales reached the Rugby World Cup knockout phase for a fourth successive tournament before bowing out against quarter-final opponents Argentina.

And that represented a solid achievement given Wales’ struggles earlier in the year when poor form was matched by off-field issues such as financial and contractual uncertainty that almost led to a players’ strike.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on Wales’ World Cup campaign.


A Pool C opener against unpredictable Fiji in Bordeaux meant Wales’ hopes of progressing from their group faced an immediate threat, but they overcame the challenge – just. Wales led by 18 points thanks to tries from Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee, but Fiji hit back spectacularly through two tries before star back Semi Radradra dropped the ball as Wales’ try-line beckoned during the dying seconds.

A 32-26 victory was followed by them beating Portugal 28-8 in Nice, before Wales romped to a record 40-6 win against Eddie Jones’ hapless Australian team and Georgia were seen off 43-19 as Warren Gatland’s men secured top spot in the pool and collected 19 points from a possible 20.

They were favourites to beat Argentina at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome and reach the semi-finals, but Wales unravelled after building a 10-point advantage, losing 29-17 in what they will view as a huge missed opportunity.


Wales head coach Gatland saw the World Cup build-up begin by losing almost 300 caps’ worth of experience as Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb all retired from Test rugby in quick succession. An extended training squad went through punishing camps in Switzerland and Turkey before Gatland’s final 33-strong squad for France featured 16 players at their first World Cup.

The entire group had competitive minutes, and Wales’ three biggest games – Fiji, Australia and Argentina – saw just one enforced change of personnel after number eight Taulupe Faletau broke his arm during the Georgia win. There were also impressive moments from relative newcomers like Rio Dyer, Sam Costelow, Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza as Gatland got his selection spot-on.

Star performers

A number of players stood out for Wales as they made impressive progress through their group. Wing Rees-Zammit was the only player to start all four pool games and the quarter-final, and he scored five tries, including a hat-trick against Georgia.

Squad co-captain Jac Morgan – aged just 23 – evoked memories of a 22-year-old Sam Warburton skippering Wales in the 2011 World Cup through inspired leadership and superb performances, while North’s fourth World Cup – a Welsh record – was highlighted by impressively assured displays in midfield.

Lock Will Rowlands was another whose all-round quality helped keep his side on the front foot, and Faletau looked back to his world-class best before injury struck. Wales’ World Cup campaign was very much a collective effort.

The future

Fly-half talisman Dan Biggar bowed out of international rugby following Wales’ loss to Argentina, but his enthusiasm for the future led to him stating: “A strong core of young players will know that they have got the talent to rub shoulders with the best of the best. I really think the future is bright for Welsh rugby”.

Wales’ quarter-final demise will mean frustration in the short term, but optimism should soon take over. Biggar has left the international arena, while Japan-bound backs Liam Williams and Gareth Anscombe will not feature in the Six Nations later this season, but strong foundations have been laid, accompanied by a sprinkling of star-dust in players such as Rees-Zammit, Dyer, Costelow and Morgan.

And with Gatland at the helm, Wales’ next four-year World Cup cycle could prove one to savour.

England are ready for scheming from South Africa at the Stade de France on Saturday but believe the World Cup will be decided in other areas.

Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus is accomplished at what Warren Gatland describes as “dark arts”, such as using mind games to give his side an edge, especially through the use of social media to “control the agenda”.

The most recent example is the suggestion that the Springboks used HIAs in their quarter-final victory over France last Sunday to give forwards Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Bongi Mbonambi a rest – a claim denied by Erasmus.

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth insists England know they will be targeted in the last-four showdown in Paris and even believes that their media output is being monitored closely.

“I’m sure that, with the smarts of their coaching team, they will try to throw stuff at us, no doubt. Will that be the winning and losing of this game? Probably not,” Wigglesworth said.

“It will probably be the big bits of the game that decides that and then they’ll give those little nuances a chance.

“I wouldn’t like to guess what they are going to try and do because I know they will watch and hear everything we say. I wouldn’t like to try and give anyone a head start.”

South Africa are aiming to win their fourth World Cup and enter the second semi-final as overwhelming favourites, while few people are giving England a chance.

“If there is pressure on South Africa, then they’ve shown they can deal with it,” Wigglesworth said.

“They dealt with it at the last World Cup and dealt with it in numerous games. It’s not something that we’ve been clinging on to.

“I’m super-impressed with them as an outfit. They’ve evolved a little bit but without changing their DNA, which we know is incredibly physical with a good kicking game on the back of a rush defence.

“That’s stuff that we’re going to have to deal with, but we also need to make sure that we’re giving them some food for thought.”

Warren Gatland is to remain as Wales head coach and lead them to the 2027 World Cup.

Gatland placed his future in the hands of the Welsh Rugby Union following his side’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina on Saturday.

The 60-year-old New Zealander, pointing to a break-up clause in his contract, said: “If the union want to get rid of me, that’s up to them.”

But asked at a press conference on Wednesday whether he will stay through to the next World Cup in Australia, Gatland said: “Absolutely. That’s the plan.

“I had a joke with Nigel (Walker, interim WRU chief executive) before and said ‘You can’t get rid of me’.

“I think my contract said if we didn’t get out of the pool they had a clause that said they could get rid of me. I said: ‘If you do want to pay me off that’s up to you’. But I’m excited what we can do as a group.”

Gatland was joined at the press conference by Walker, the former Wales wing who has stood in as WRU interim CEO since the end of January and will become the executive director of rugby at the start of next year.

Walker said: “To be successful in international sport you have to have good coaches and good players.

“To be a good coach you need experience, miles on the clock, understand your craft, get your message across to players, and players have to trust you.

“You’ve seen the growth in the squad in a relatively small period of time and, like Warren, I’m really excited what the next four years can bring.

“We’ve got something to build on and we know we can grow the standard of the squad to an even greater level we saw over the last four or five weeks.”

Wales were written off by many before the World Cup after a difficult 12 months, which saw them suffer an embarrassing defeat to Georgia and head coach Wayne Pivac sacked in December.

Gatland, who coached Wales between 2007 and 2019, returned to oversee a Six Nations campaign that produced only one victory after the players had threatened to take strike action over contractual issues.

Ken Owens, captain in that campaign, described Wales as the “laughing stock” of world rugby, but Gatland believes Wales will move forward after topping their World Cup pool with wins over Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal.

“We’ve got an opportunity to bring some youngsters in and build on the cycle to 2027 with players having 50, 60, 70 caps behind them,” said Gatland, who became the first coach in France to lead a team to four World Cup quarter-finals.

“There’s also an opportunity for us to build some closer relationships with the regions and some of the changes with coaches and personnel there, and that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

“Often those relationships have been quite fractured because of things that were going on between the regions and the unions, and we got dragged into it.”

Wales play the Barbarians in Cardiff on November 4 as a tribute to their former captain Alun Wyn Jones, who retired from international rugby in May.

Players based in France and England will not be selected as the game falls outside the international window.

Gatland confirmed five players – Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Josh Adams, Liam Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit – are injured and would have missed out on a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand this Friday had they beaten Argentina.

Biggar has retired from international rugby and played his last game for Wales, while Taulupe Faletau’s future will become clearer next year.

The 32-year-old British and Irish Lions number eight broke his arm against Georgia and missed the Argentina defeat.

Gatland said: “I spoke to Taulupe before he left France and said ‘get that arm fixed’. We’ll sit down then and talk about what he wants to do over the next few years in terms of playing.”

Warren Gatland felt the change in referee knocked Wales off their stride as they crashed out of the World Cup with a 29-17 quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Marseille.

South African official Jaco Peyper hobbled off with a calf injury after Wales had scored their first try in the 15th minute, taking a 7-0 lead in a match they had dominated.

But with Karl Dickson replacing Peyper their ascendency slipped away and Argentina came on strong in the second half with tries from Joel Sclavi and Nicolas Sanchez sweeping them into the last four.

Head coach Gatland was full of praise for the Pumas’ performance but also felt events had conspired against Wales.

“It probably didn’t help with the referee getting injured. That was a little bit disruptive in terms of the game,” said Gatland, who confirmed his commitment to remaining in charge of Wales until the 2027 World Cup.

“We were 10-0 up and were thinking that if we take a few of the opportunities that were presented to us. Unfortunately we gave away a couple of soft penalties.

“It does throw you off. We were comfortable with Jaco Peyper and the relationship we have with him in terms of his control of the game.

“It’s nothing against Karl but you do a lot of analysis through what referees tend to be tough on and what they are looking for.

“We hadn’t prepared for the change. Sometimes that happens in a game and you just have to deal with it. That is the way Test match rugby goes sometimes.”

A controversial refereeing decision saw Guido Petti hit Nick Tompkins in the head with his shoulder in the third quarter but Dickson and TMO Marius Jonker ruled there was no foul play.

It was explained that because the tackle had been called, Tompkins was falling and Petti entered legally while bent at the waist, there was no offence. Argentina went over from the same period of play to stretch their lead.

“It would be interesting to see what happens in terms of the feedback from the panel,” Gatland said.

“He (Dickson) felt that Nick has dropped his height and he said it wasn’t foul play. I would need to go back and look at it, but it was probably at least a penalty situation.

“Sometimes those things happen in a game in big moments and can swing things. That is just the way it is.”

Dan Biggar’s final match for Wales ended in disappointment with the fly-half eventually departing in the second half having taken a bang to the chest early on, possibly exacerbating a pectoral muscle injury he had been carrying.

“Dan has been a great servant for Welsh rugby. He has been through some incredible highs and some lows as well. To see him come into the side and mature and develop as a player, that has been pretty special,” Gatland said.

Argentina were transformed from the team routed 27-10 by 14-man England in their group opener and head coach Michael Cheika insisted the lessons of that defeat had been learned.

“We knew that first game would be rough for us and we learned a lot from it because we had a lot of World Cup first timers,” Cheika said.

“There hasn’t been a radical turnaround, we’ve just built from what we’ve learned. The progress hasn’t been lineal, but all that work we put in as a foundation has paid off.

“We’re starting to get a bit of flow and one thing this team has always had is lots of flow. We just didn’t handle the occasion against England well.”

Warren Gatland says it would be “a huge achievement” if Wales reach their third Rugby World Cup semi-final in the last four tournaments by beating Argentina on Saturday.

Gatland’s team face the Pumas in Marseille after dominating a pool that some thought they might not qualify from following a dismal Six Nations campaign last season.

Four successive wins and 19 points collected saw them leave sides like Fiji and Australia in their slipstream to set up the Pumas clash at Stade Velodrome.

“It would be our third semi-final, and then in 2015 we were leading South Africa for 75 minutes (in the quarter-finals) and conceded at the end,” Gatland said. “Reflecting on that, we would be pretty proud.

“I have always spoken about how much I have enjoyed the World Cup preparations.

“It is the only time you get to feel like you are a club side in getting that detail done. You feel like you have made a huge amount of progress.

“After all the challenges during the Six Nations, with the potential (player) strike and the contracts and the money with the Union (Welsh Rugby Union) and regions, as coaches we would joke about what would happen next, what would be the next thing thrown at us?.

“I definitely think there has been a line in the sand drawn under that. If we can make the semi-final it would be a huge achievement for this group of players and coaches, who have done a great job, and the back-room staff have been outstanding.

“I know there are some people and some teams out there who won’t want to face a Wales team when they start playing with confidence and when we start having momentum.

“That is when we are at our most dangerous. We are starting to look that way at the moment.”

Wales have not met Argentina in the World Cup for 24 years, but their recent form against them is impressive, having lost just two of the last 11 Tests.

And while Wales sailed through their group, Argentina lost to 14-man England, unconvincingly beat Samoa and then defeated Japan in what was a quarter-final eliminator.

Gatland added: “We are expecting them to come really hard at us. I don’t think anything changes, and the players are well aware of that.

“We talk about being on the edge mentally and you can’t be there at the top of that every single week, so it is how close you can get to it.

“We’ve had a couple of games already where we feel we have been really on the edge in a positive way, and a couple of games where we have been off two or three per cent, so it is how close you can get to that 100 per cent mental peak.

“I am expecting that will be right up there from that physical challenge that will come at us.”

Wales show one change from the side that beat Fiji and Australia, with Tommy Reffell called up to the back-row and Aaron Wainwright switching from blindside flanker to number eight instead of broken arm victim Taulupe Faletau.

Centre George North, meanwhile, will become the first Wales player to feature in four World Cup quarter-finals.

“It is an unbelievable achievement, especially when you realise it after how much hard work all of the boys in every team have to do for a World Cup – it is years in the undertaking,” North’s midfield partner, Nick Tompkins, said.

“So, for him to do it four times is pretty impressive. I am not sure I would be able to do that.

“It speaks volumes for the determination and kind of bloke he is. He is on the best form he has been on for a long, long time.”

Wales will target a third Rugby World Cup semi-final appearance in the last four tournaments when they tackle Argentina on Saturday.

The quarter-final clash in Marseille comes after Wales collected 19 points from a possible 20 to dominate the pool.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points heading into the game.

Wales in the driving seat

It would have been fanciful seven months ago to identify Wales as possible World Cup semi-finalists, given a miserable Six Nations campaign that saw them win one game.

Head coach Warren Gatland has turned things around, though, masterminding an unbeaten group phase that produced key victories over Fiji and Australia.

In contrast, Argentina found it tough going, losing to 14-man England before posting an unimpressive win against Samoa and then qualifying as Pool D runners-up.

It is a first World Cup meeting between Wales and the Pumas since 1999, with Gatland’s team firm favourites.

Faletau loss a huge blow

Wales’ victory over Georgia last weekend was clouded by number eight Taulupe Faletau suffering a broken arm that ruled him out of the tournament.

With 104 caps to his name and a consistent ability to hit world-class standards, his absence cannot be sugar-coated, even if Wales have enviable back-row strength.

Big players produce big performances in big games, and few Wales players have delivered such quality so regularly than Faletau during his 12-year Test career.

The shows goes on, but one of its star performers has left the stage.

Form and history favours Wales

Former Wales flanker Richard Webster once said that rugby is a sport played on grass, not paper, but form and history strongly supports a Wales victory on Saturday.

Four successive wins since losing their final World Cup warm-up match to South Africa represents a longest unbeaten run for more than two years, while Gatland has a 100 per cent record as Wales boss against the Pumas of played six, won six.

Argentina have beaten Wales only twice in the last 11 meetings, and their World Cup performances so far do not suggest an immediate turnaround in fortunes.

Biggar to boss the show?

Biggar is back at fly-half after recovering from a pectoral muscle injury suffered against Australia almost three weeks ago, with his leadership and game-management vital to Wales successfully negotiating their quarter-final hurdle.

The 33-year-old, who has won 111 caps, will retire from international rugby after the World Cup, and he is likely to be front and centre in Marseille as Wales target a triumph that would take them on the road to Paris for the tournament’s final fortnight.

His influence cannot be understated.

Jac Morgan – captain marvel

While Wales’ cap centurions like Biggar, Faletau and George North – who makes a Welsh record fourth World Cup quarter-final appearance – have all made their presence felt in France, the relatively inexperienced Morgan has also operated at an impressive level on a consistent basis.

Squad co-captain with hooker Dewi Lake, 23-year-old Morgan led Wales superbly in key pool-stage victories over Fiji and Australia, while his performances warranted the rave reviews they received.

There is a calm, quiet authority about the Ospreys flanker, who revels in Test rugby’s unforgiving and unrelenting environment.

Warren Gatland says that Wales are not ready to go home and they will embrace the pressure surrounding Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Victory over the Pumas in Marseille would see Wales reach a third World Cup semi-final under Gatland.

And while the Wales head coach had short shrift for those complaining about the World Cup draw being conducted in late 2020 – two heavyweight contenders out of France, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa will be eliminated this weekend – his sole focus is on events at Stade Velodrome.

“The quarter-final poses its own challenges and pressures because you are either here until the end of the tournament or you are going home on Monday,” Gatland said.

“Definitely as a squad, we are not ready to go home. It is pressure rugby now in the knockout stages, and that is what we have prepared for.

“You have just got to embrace it (pressure). You cannot hide away from it, and we know within the squad the preparation that has gone into this World Cup.

“We are not surprised where we are. We think we are in pretty good shape from a physical point of view, but also a mental point of view in terms of our preparation.

“If you read or listened to anyone a couple of months ago, there was speculation, people predicting we would not get out of the group.

“We haven’t spoken about underdogs or favourite tags. We are just going through our own processes and working as hard as we can to make sure the preparation is right for Saturday.”

Dan Biggar and Liam Williams have been passed fit to start against Argentina, while centre George North will become the first Welshman to feature in four World Cup quarter-finals.

Biggar had been battling to overcome a chest injury and Williams was a doubt because of a knee problem, but they have been given the all-clear and start at fly-half and full-back, respectively.

There is no place in the matchday 23 for Gareth Anscombe, however, after he was forced to withdraw 45 minutes before kick-off against Georgia last Saturday because of a groin issue.

Taulupe Faletau’s World Cup-ending broken arm sustained in the 43-19 victory over the Georgians has resulted in a reshuffle to the back-row.

Aaron Wainwright moves across from blindside flanker to fill the void at number eight created by Faletau’s injury, while skipper Jac Morgan takes the number six shirt.

Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell, meanwhile, comes in at openside to complete the back-row adjustments.

Asked for his verdict on the perceived lopsided draw – the bottom half features Wales, Argentina, England and Fiji and was based on world rankings in January 2020 – Gatland added: “I would just say to the other teams they should have done better in the last World Cup. That is where the draw came from.

“It is not our fault this happened. You didn’t hear us complaining in 2015 about Fiji, Australia, England and ourselves being in the same pool. We didn’t complain about that.

“You are dealt a hand and you have just got to deal with that.

“I agree with the sentiment that the draw may have been done too early. It has been done too early in the past, and whether the people in control of that next time can put the pools together a bit later, that is up to them.

“We can’t change what has been done. We can only play what’s in front of us. In saying that, I thought our group was the most even.”

Wales have lost only two of their last 11 Tests against Argentina, and while Gatland’s team made an unbeaten march through their group, collecting 19 points from a possible 20, the Pumas struggled.

They lost to 14-man England, found it hard going against Samoa and only secured a last-eight place with a final game victory over Japan.

Gatland said: “They bring that South American mentality, they are very passionate and that is why they have won big games against top teams in the past in the southern hemisphere.

“They don’t give up, they stay in the fight. They are a really tough team to break down and beat, and it is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Wales will contest their seventh Rugby World Cup quarter-final when they take on Argentina in Marseille on Saturday.

And their record under head coach Warren Gatland shows four successive appearances in the last eight.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on Wales’ last five quarter-finals.

Wales 9 Australia 24 (Cardiff, 1999)

Wales made Australia work for victory in a rain-swept Cardiff, but three Neil Jenkins penalties proved their only scoreboard rewards as the Wallabies marched on. Two George Gregan tries and a Ben Tune touchdown reflected the attacking quality of Australia’s backs, even in such testing conditions, and the Wallabies went on to be crowned world champions for a second time by demolishing France 35-12 two weeks later.

England 28 Wales 17 (Brisbane, 2003)

England were given a major fright on their way to winning the World Cup as Wales provided fierce opposition in Brisbane. Tries by Stephen Jones – he rounded off a brilliant length-of-the-field move – Colin Charvis and Martyn Williams underpinned Wales’ display, and England had to dig deep before prevailing on the back of 23 points from Jonny Wilkinson and a Will Greenwood touchdown. Having also tested New Zealand in their final pool game, Wales flew home with heads held high.

Wales 22 Ireland 10 (Wellington, 2011)

Wales secured a first World Cup semi-final spot for 24 years after producing a dominant display against Ireland in Wellington. Wales never looked seriously troubled as they triumphed on the back of tries from Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and Jonathan Davies. Although they won their pool, Ireland were no match for a Wales team that went on to lose against semi-final opponents France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off.

Wales 19 South Africa 23 (Twickenham, 2015)

Wales’ World Cup journey ended at Twickenham, but not before they stood toe to toe with South Africa’s revered pack throughout an enthralling contest. Springboks scrum-half Fourie du Preez’s 75th-minute try finally broke Welsh resistance, halting a campaign that had seen Wales progress from a tough pool that also included England and Australia. Scrum-half Gareth Davies scored a try, with Dan Biggar kicking 14 points.

Wales 20 France 19 (Oita, 2019)

Wales needed a late Ross Moriarty try to subdue France after fighting back from 19-10 adrift at half-time. Les Bleus had lock Sebastien Vahaamahina sent off early in the second period following an elbow on Aaron Wainwright, and it proved decisive as Moriarty’s score followed an earlier Wainwright touchdown, while Biggar kicked two penalties and two conversions. Wales booked a last-four appointment with South Africa in Yokohama.

Wales were left to count the cost of their Rugby World Cup victory over Georgia after number eight Taulupe Faletau suffered a broken arm and two other players were also injured.

Faletau, who has won more than 100 caps, will take no further part in the tournament as Wales build towards a quarter-final against probably Argentina or Japan in Marseille next weekend.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said no decision had yet been made on a replacement for Faletau, although flanker Aaron Wainwright is an option to move across the back-row.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe, meanwhile, withdrew 45 minutes before kick-off in Nantes following a groin problem suffered during the warm-up.

And full-back Liam Williams was on crutches after Gatland said he took a blow to his knee, but Wales are hopeful he will be fit for the quarter-final, with Wales ending their Pool C campaign as group winners with four successive victories following a 43-19 triumph.

“Toby (Faletau) has broken his arm so he will be out,” Gatland said.

“We are just going to assess Gareth over the next 72 hours. He has pulled his groin very high up.

“Talking to the medics, he has got a bit of power still in his leg which is a positive. It means he has not pulled it off the bone.

“We will probably know in the next 48-72 hours what we need to do with him. Whether we’ve got (time) for him to recover or replace him directly.

“We have got to look at a replacement for Faletau, whether that is directly as a loose-forward replacement or whether we look at another position.

“We’ve got a few sore players, particularly in the backs, after today’s game.

“If you do see Liam Williams on crutches, it is not that he has done anything significantly bad.

“He got a whack on the knee, and the medics, from a comfort perspective, have put him on crutches to save him walking around a bit.

“He has got a knock and probably won’t take a huge part in training in the early part of next week, but hopefully he will be fit for the quarter-final.”

Wales won their Rugby World Cup group and maintained an unbeaten march to the quarter-finals after beating Georgia 43-19 at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Warren Gatland’s team needed one point to finish top of Pool C after securing a last-eight place almost two weeks ago by defeating Australia in record-breaking fashion.

And they accomplished it on the same ground that 16 years ago Fiji condemned them to a World Cup pool-stage exit.

Wing Louis Rees-Zammit scored three tries, while there were also touchdowns for prop Tomas Francis, full-back Liam Williams and centre George North.

Wales ensured there would be no repeat of Georgia’s shock 13-12 success in Cardiff during the 2022 autumn Tests as they overcame fly-half Gareth Anscombe’s withdrawal just 45 minutes before kick-off due to a groin injury.

Anscombe’s late replacement Sam Costelow kicked five conversions and a penalty, although Georgia fought back to 24-19 adrift at one point through tries from Merab Sharikadze, Vano Karkadze and Davit Niniashvili, with Luka Matkava kicking two conversions.

A protracted mass brawl late in the game that spilled over the touchline and involved replacements from both sides saw Niniashvili and Wales substitute Taine Basham yellow-carded.

Wales were home and dry by this stage, although there was more injury concern when number eight Taulupe Faletau went off nursing what appeared to be a wrist problem.

Costelow mixed his running and kicking game well in the early stages, but Wales could get no change out of a well-organised Georgia defence.

There were plenty of errors in perfect playing conditions from both sides, but Wales broke the deadlock after 16 minutes.

A powerful lineout drive put Georgia on the back-foot, before Tomos Williams’ short inside pass resulted in Francis going over for a try that Costelow converted.

Wales had settled into a rhythm, and they struck from another attacking lineout just seven minutes later.

Lock Will Rowlands secured quality possession and, when the ball was moved wide Liam Williams finished impressively. Costelow’s conversion made it 14-0.

A Costelow penalty then opened up a 17-point advantage, and Wales appeared to be well on their way to a fourth successive pool victory.

Georgia regrouped as the first-half drew to a close, and Sharikadze claimed a try that Matkava converted following a sustained spell of pressure.

It was a warning for Wales that they could not switch off as they took a 17-7 lead into the interval.

Georgia began the second period on the front foot, but a midfield fumble saw North find Rees-Zammit, and the Gloucester speedster cruised clear from 60 metres out to claim his third try of the tournament.

Costelow converted, and it was exactly what Wales required after Georgia had threatened a fightback before the break.

Gatland changed the entire front row after 50 minutes, with Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Henry Thomas all joining the action.

And while Wales were comfortably ahead, Georgia kept searching for attacking opportunities in their final game of the competition after defeats against Australia and Fiji and a draw with Portugal.

Their resilience was then rewarded with 20 minutes left when replacement hooker Karkadze went over and Matkava converted.

And Georgia immediately conjured a third try, this time from Niniashvili, making it 24-18 and giving Wales plenty to be concerned about.

Gatland’s team were in danger of unravelling, but just when they needed it, Rees-Zammit applied a brilliant finish for his second try which Costelow converted, making it 31-19.

Biggar joined the action deep into the final quarter, and when Rees-Zammit claimed his hat-trick try, Wales were home before North’s try – and Wales’ sixth – completed the scoring, with Japan or Argentina now awaiting as their quarter-final opponents.

Jonathan Humphreys says that Wales “cannot afford to go off-script” when they tackle Rugby World Cup opponents Georgia in Nantes on Saturday.

Wales need a point from their Pool C finale to win the group, having already secured a quarter-final place through beating Australia by a record 40-6 scoreline nine days ago.

They lost 13-12 at home to Georgia when the countries last met almost a year ago, and Wales assistant coach Humphreys has emphasised a fierce sense of determination in the camp.

“There has been a bit of an edge about training, which is what we want,” forwards specialist Humphreys said.

“We are just keen to continue the progress that we’ve shown. That is a big driving force for us, and we have talked constantly about that.

“I expect them (Georgia) to play a bit, and they are strong up-front – we are under no illusion about that.

“They are a dangerous outfit, and we cannot afford to go off-script.”

Few could have imagined Wales reaching the last eight just 11 months after Georgia triumphed 13-12 in Cardiff, and Humphreys added: “We’ve had five months together. We are more like a club team than an international team.

“We came in earlier than most teams, we know what we wanted to improve and we haven’t deviated from that.

“Probably the messages that went out in May, they haven’t changed at all.

“Every day, it has been working on those fundamentals that we felt were important and would make a difference.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made six changes for the Georgia clash, with Dewi Lake captaining a side that also sees starts for wing Rio Dyer, fly-half Gareth Anscombe, scrum-half Tomos Williams, lock Dafydd Jenkins and flanker Tommy Reffell.

Centre Nick Tompkins will continue his midfield partnership with George North, meanwhile, and look to maintain the form that has made him among Wales’ most impressive performers at the tournament.

“We want no dip in our performance,” Tompkins said.

“We want to get better, we don’t want to take our foot off the pedal – that’s the last thing we want. We want confidence and momentum and to keep on going.

“I want to just keep getting better and keep pushing myself. There are a lot of things I need to improve on.

“I am happy with some areas, but there are some things I really need to push myself on.

“You look at some of the other centres out there and how well they are doing, and you want to emulate that.

“Being together as a squad for five months means you can have those little conversations and make little tweaks.

“You are all looking for little things to tweak and improve. It has been really healthy, and it has been all of us pushing each other.”

Tompkins has also voiced his support for the World Cup bunker system, whereby incidents of foul play can be referred and a yellow card retained or upgraded to red.

“I like it,” Tompkins added.

“Decisions are tough at the moment anyway, referees are under a lot of a pressure to keep the game moving quickly and get the right decision.

“I think it is brilliant, I like that model. To cut down the pressure we put on referees, especially, is good.”

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