Wales planning Poland trip

PA Sport
Rob Howley will take the Wales squad back to Poland
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Rob Howley will take the Wales squad back to Poland

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley will take a leaf out of Warren Gatland's book in his preparations for the autumn Tests this season.

Gatland, recently appointed as British and Irish Lions head coach to tour Australia next summer, will be at the Wales helm against New Zealand and Australia in November and December.

But the remaining two autumn appointments with Argentina and Samoa - plus Wales's entire RBS 6 Nations campaign - are in Howley's hands as Gatland concentrates on Lions business. And one of Howley's early plans is to take the squad back to the training camp in Spala, Poland, where they worked prior to World Cup 2011.

Wales, viewed as arguably the fittest team in the tournament, enjoyed their best World Cup campaign for 24 years before bowing out to semi-final conquerors France.

Howley is set to name his squad for the autumn series on October 22, after which players and coaches will head to Poland and another stint working with facilities that include a cryotherapy centre.

Former Wales captain Howley was in charge for the 3-0 summer Test series defeat against Australia, and memories of those setbacks remain fresh. Wales lost all three games by a combined total of 11 points.

"We spoke after that final match (on the Australia tour) as coaches and warned against hiding away from the fact that we had lost the series 3-0," Howley said.

"The difference between winning and losing those games was about holding our nerve, mastering a particular moment, having the mental strength in the last 30 seconds of a game to do the right thing.

"These were things we were unable to do in those instances, but we need to remember what it feels like so we can get it right next time. It had been a whitewash, and it is important to face up to that, but from both a player's and coach's perspective we know we can draw strength from adversity like that.

"We thought as a nation we closed that gap in our mental toughness, but we know there is still an improvement to make."

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