By Chris Jones
BBC rugby union correspondent
Wales players feed off boss Warren Gatland’s belief and confidence before high-stakes matches, says former captain Sam Warburton.
Gatland promised his side would be a “different animal” in the build-up to Saturday’s crunch Six Nations showdown with England, which Wales won 21-13.
“If he tells you you are going to do something, you genuinely believe you are going to do it,” Warburton said.
“More often than not, when he says something, it works.”
Speaking on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, Wales great Warburton, who retired last year after winning 74 caps, added: “He genuinely believes he can beat anyone and everyone on his day, and the players feed off that confidence.
“That is definitely his best trait as a head coach. He has changed Wales from a perceived underdog in 2008 to now expecting to be favourites.
“He has got the boys genuinely to believe. He has changed the psychology.”
Gatland ‘planting a World Cup seed’
Wales were unconvincing in victories over France and Italy, but produced a stirring second-half display in Cardiff to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive and wreck England’s.
“When it’s really mattered, I’ve questioned whether they can win these big games,” Gatland said.
While Warburton has downplayed the notion that England fail to deliver on the big stage, he says Gatland’s comments were carefully calculated.
“England had beaten us five times in a row [in the Six Nations]. I wouldn’t call England bottlers, he is having a bit of fun,” the 30-year-old added.
“But he is very clever at planting things in the press and influencing the public image of Wales or the team they are playing – he does plan meticulously what he is going to say.
“It could come back to put a bit of pressure on an opposition team come the World Cup.”
Former England winger Ugo Monye also believes Gatland’s comments were made with this year’s tournament in Japan in mind, with Wales and England possible quarter-final opponents.
“I potentially think he is planting a seed for the World Cup,” Monye added on Rugby Union Weekly.
“He is just chucking it out there, and saying: ‘Just remember that.’ Because it will be brought up [come the World Cup].
“It adds that bit of pressure and expectation.”