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Wales v.s. England: Will It Happen? – Six Nations 2023

Warren Gatland has admitted he was in the dark over the mood of militancy among the Wales squad before he returned as head coach.

The New Zealander delayed the announcement of his team to face England on Saturday, having originally planned to name his side on Tuesday afternoon.

The Six Nations clash against Wales’ biggest rivals would have been one of the major matches he had in mind when Gatland decided to return for his second stint in charge back in December.

Talks between negotiators of a new six-year financial agreement – the Professional Rugby Board – and Welsh professional players had been due to take place on Wednesday, but Gatland is hopeful of a solution being reached before then.

But he admitted that he “wishes he would have known” about the situation around his dissatisfied players, who are threatening to go on strike and not play on Saturday.

DragonBet currently price the Wales v England game as 1-4 to go ahead as scheduled and offer odds of 3/1 against it being called off.

“I was not aware of any of the issues at all, no,” said Gatland.

“I think it just came to a head because everyone needs to take some responsibility and I think people are well aware that these negotiations and discussions have been going on for too long.

“I think the players were given assurances on a number of occasions that it would be sorted out and the unfortunate situation is that they haven’t been able to come to an agreement in terms of the PRB and the Union and the region.

“It finally came to a head so I think we have all been asking for things to get sorted. I wasn’t aware of any of the issues going on when I took the job.

“There have probably been half a dozen meetings over the last few days.

“Today was supposed to be a double (training) session, but we have kept it to just this morning so we are not training this afternoon. Hopefully, those things get resolved and the boys turn up on Thursday raring to go for Saturday.

“I am hearing positive things from both sides. Hopefully the discussions will be acceptable to both sides in terms of getting some compromise, and we can get on with the game.”

Asked about the prospect of a strike if nothing is agreed, Gatland added: “I think it is a genuine threat, there is no doubt about that.

“Having spoken to a few people today, I am confident that we will get some resolution.

“What the players were asking for is definitely reasonable. There needs to be some negotiation. It’s like everything, you have to find some middle ground.

“Hopefully, in the discussions today there will be some middle ground where the players are happy and the Professional Rugby Board are also happy with some of the decisions they make as well.

“The thing is, when you are in discussions, it is not always about win-win for one side. You have to find some compromise.”

Welsh players are set to meet with the PRB on Wednesday in a bid to end their impasse and ward off a possible strike and want a review of a proposal that would see 80 per cent of their wages guaranteed, with 20 per cent via bonuses, and representation from the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association on the PRB.

They are also seeking an end to the 60-cap rule that says only players who have reached that threshold can play for the national team if they move to a club abroad.

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