Warren Gatland says making history with third straight Six Nations title is major motivation
Last Updated: 22/01/14 12:47pm
Warren Gatland: His Wales team are focused on creating Six Nations history
Coach Warren Gatland says the prospect of making history by claiming a third consecutive Six Nations title is a major motivational factor for his Wales team.
Since its inception as a six-team championship in 2000, no team has won three on the trot with England (2000 & 2001), France (2006 & 2007) and Wales (2012 & 2013) the only teams to manage back-to-back successes.
Gatland's men have the chance to break new ground if they emerge triumphant this year and the New Zealander admits the feat is uppermost in his players' minds.
"[We'll be] trying to do that," he told Sky Sports. "It's always nice when you've got something to focus on and so the players coming into camp, that's been the focus.
"We've got a chance to create some history, to do something special and [something] no team's ever done.
"From a coaching perspective it's nice to have that focus to start the campaign."
Gatland also delivered a positive bulletin on the fitness of skipper Sam Warburton who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury picked up in the Autumn International defeat to Australia in November.
The flanker is now back in full training and Gatland acknowledged he has a chance of starting in the Six Nations curtain-raiser against Italy on Saturday week.
"He's not far away," Gatland continued. "He's back to training, but he feels like he might need a run-around - maybe that's back with the club side next week.
"We'll see how he goes in the next few days in terms of training.
"Whether he starts next week, whether he's on the bench, or whether we give him a game at club level next week we'll make that decision - but he's definitely not too far away."
"It's a tournament about confidence and momentum. You need a bit of luck to win this tournament, but if you can get a bit of confidence and self-belief and get on a roll, you can do well."
Gatland enjoyed the prestige of leading the British & Irish Lions on their first successful tour in 16 years last summer when his troops defeated Australia.
However, it is often suggested that it is France who often benefit in the aftermath of a Lions tour with the theory being that the Home Nations players involved are physically and mentally drained.
Gatland conceded such a possibility could be true, but feels his side's opening game against Italy in Cardiff offers the chance to build up some early momentum.
"You're right in terms of France normally being the favourites [after a Lions tour]," he added. "That opening game in Paris between France and England, that potentially could determine the result of this tournament.
"It's a tournament about confidence and momentum, it's a tough tournament to win. You need a bit of luck to win this tournament, but if you can get a bit of confidence and self-belief and get on a roll you can do well.
"We've got to make sure our complete focus is about Wales, the team performing well and creating a bit of history."