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Thursday 8 December 2016

Normal activity for Gatland's men despite ghostly goings on at hotel

Oatlands House Hotel
Oatlands House Hotel

The ghostly goings-on at Wales' World Cup team hotel in Weybridge this week have served to underline what great spirits Warren Gatland's players are in.

It could be argued that whatever happens to them during the tournament remainder, they have enjoyed a successful World Cup.

Not that head coach Gatland or his squad intend bowing out any time soon, and they know that victory over Australia at Twickenham tomorrow would secure a quarter-final against Scotland or Japan, followed by a semi-final appointment with Ireland, France or Argentina.

Lose to the Wallabies - Wales have suffered 10 successive defeats against Australia and not toppled them since 2008 - and it becomes a whole different ball-game, though, with South Africa awaiting as last-eight opponents. Then, if Wales emerge unscathed, it is likely to be reigning world champions New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Gatland has engendered very much a club team-type atmosphere among the squad, with a close-knit group - players, management and back-room staff - all singing from the same hymn sheet.

It says everything about their morale and resilience that Wales have overcome five tournament-ending injuries to players since Gatland named his World Cup squad.

And paranoia about the paranormal at a supposedly-haunted Oatlands Park Hotel has proved to be a feelgood story that players and coaches have been happy to play along with.

The 19th century hotel is known for tales regarding sightings of the so-called ''grey lady'' while room 1313 on the hotel's third floor has a history of guests reporting extreme temperature changes and the feeling of a "presence".

The hotel, which dates back to 1856, stands on the site of the Tudor royal palaces of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Prop Samson Lee said: "A few boys think they've seen a ghost, but I'm not sure they actually have. I think it's best to stay away from room 1313, though.

"(Flanker) Dan Lydiate isn't happy about it. He actually thinks he's seen a ghost."

Lydiate and Warburton were the original occupants of room 1313 this week, then Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau moved in, with hooker Scott Baldwin adding: "Sam Warburton said that Dan Lydiate had seen a big fat man sat on the radiator. I'm pretty sure it was just Samson Lee wandering around looking for some food in the night!

"Toby and 'Tips' are in room 1313 now, but they are probably up all night playing Fifa, so it won't bother them. They will probably ask the ghost if he wants a game."

Then Wales' consultant head of fitness and conditioning chief Paul Stridgeon said: "Dan said he saw a big figure at the end of his bed, stood on the radiator with a massive beard. He thought it was (Wales lock) Jake Ball. Someone said Henry VIII, but I don't think he's ever been here.

"It wasn't something we had bargained for, but as a support staff we will deal with anything that is thrown at us."

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