WARREN Gatland is pleased Wales have escaped being put among the favourites for this season’s Six Nations Championship.

Wales are currently not mentioned in the same breath by pundits as countries like England, Ireland and Scotland, but Wales head coach Gatland said: “Long may that continue.”

The Scots’ chances have been talked up in recent weeks following impressive performances versus Australia and New Zealand, while England and Ireland have dominated the Six Nations since Wales last won it in 2013, taking two titles each.

England are targeting a tournament hat-trick this term.

Wales’ autumn campaign included victories over South Africa and Georgia, and defeats to New Zealand and Australia, suggesting they have ground to make up on their European rivals. Although with players like Sam Warburton, George North, Liam Williams, Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric to potentially reappear in the selection mix, they should not be discounted.

“We will do a review with the coaches [tomorrow] in terms of the [autumn] campaign, and then start thinking about the Six Nations and planning for that,” Gatland said.

“It is a competition, so you want to go out there and do your best. With where all the teams are, it’s going to be one of the closest Six Nations that we have had for a long time.

“A lot of people are talking up other teams, and long may that continue from our point of view.

“Given where we are in terms of the amount of injuries and the inexperience we put out [for the autumn Tests], I think we are in a good place at the moment.

“We have worked on the way we want to play and looked at some different combinations, so I am pleased where we are.

“We didn’t pick some players in the squad that we could have picked because we know where they are. It was about developing some depth for the future.

“We will hopefully get a few players back from injury to strengthen the squad up for the Six Nations.”