Gatland's farewell dream: victory over his native New Zealand

Outgoing Wales coach tells his players that 'if you want something badly enough, and you really, really want it, then it can happen'.

TOKYO, 25 Oct - Warren Gatland's dream is to bow out of his tenure as head coach of Wales by beating his native New Zealand to lift the World Cup.

The New Zealander, pictured, has two games remaining in his success-laden 12 years with Wales but if victory can be achieved over South Africa in the semi-final at International Stadium Yokohama on Sunday the finale of a World Cup final would be for him the most fitting - particularly if it is against the All Blacks.

Gatland has never coached a team to victory against the All Blacks but is relishing the prospect of returning to his native land as a World Cup-winning coach.

"There are things you have to dream about and one of the things about me is that I am probably the greatest optimist in terms of believing something is possible and that there is a dream," said Gatland, who will return to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

"If you don't have that attitude then it will not happen. A big part of success is the belief and the desire to do something. That is what we will be building on in the next two days, and I can go back to New Zealand with my head held high.

"But I would love to beat the All Blacks as that is one thing I have not achieved.

"I have not looked that far ahead to this summer - whether I'll be in Hamilton or on Waihi Beach (in northern New Zealand) - and I am not sure the WRU (Wales Rugby Union) would let me take the World Cup back to New Zealand."

Gatland has transformed Wales since taking over after RWC 2007 where they crashed out in the pool stage after defeat by Fiji and were 10th in the world rankings.

The 56-year-old has led Wales to three Grand Slams in the Six Nations Championship, taken them briefly to the top of the world rankings, is into his second World Cup semi-final and reached a quarter-final four years ago when they lost to South Africa.

But he reckons it would be an unbelievable achievement if Wales overcame the Springboks to reach the final for the first time.

"The biggest thing I am proud of is that we have earned respect from the rest of the world in terms of what we have achieved in the last 12 years," said Gatland. "I am not sure it was there before that.

"But the greatest thing about this group of players, since I have been involved with Wales, is how much it means when they put that red jersey on and play for Wales.

"They know the opportunity they have to represent Wales and often ask just simple questions that only they can answer.

"If you come off the field, whether you have won or lost, and you can look yourself in the mirror and say, 'I tried really hard today', then as a coach that's all I can ask for.

"But it's one step at a time. We have a challenge on Sunday against a side that has been improving.

"I have two games to go as Wales coach and I want to enjoy them. There are probably nine or 10 players who won’t be involved in another World Cup as well, so they have to relish this opportunity and be excited about it.

"You have a chance to do something special in your life. These chances come along very rarely and you have got to grab them with both hands.

"When you want something badly enough and you really, really want it then it can happen. We have a group of players that really want to produce a good performance on Sunday and hopefully get to the World Cup final."

Wales received a blow when full-back Liam Williams was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury sustained in an accidental collision in training on Wednesday.

Leigh Halfpenny has been drafted in as his experienced replacement. Centre Jonathan Davies is fit after a knee injury and Ross Moriarty comes in at number eight for Josh Navidi, whose campaign ended when he tore his hamstring against France in the quarter-final.

RNS ig/js/rm/ajr