Six Nations

Gatland excited about Wales' tour to New Zealand

After securing a second-placed finish at the Six Nations, Wales head coach Warren Gatland is targeting a series of strong displays in the tour to New Zealand later this year.

A nine-try 67-14 thumping of Italy on Saturday coincided with France's defeat to Grand Slam-winning England, ensuring Wales only finished behind Eddie Jones' triumphant team.

Gatland's side will travel to New Zealand for the first time since 2010 in June for a three-Test series against the World Cup holders.

The head coach is excited by the chance for Wales to test themselves against the All Blacks and is hopeful of a series of impressive performances.

"We're pretty excited about the summer and going on tour to New Zealand," Gatland told

"With the team we've got, and providing we don't pick up too many injuries, we've got some players we know are 'x-factor' and can hopefully go out there and perform for us."

Gatland highlighted George North, who finished the Six Nations with four tries – more than any other player – after crossing the whitewash in the win over Italy, as a player who will prove influential to his aims.

"George North has been one of the top scorers. It's all about building up George and giving him some confidence," he continued.

"As players and a team, we don't always perform to our optimum, but you have no idea what it means to these players when they get built up, people believe in them and you get behind them - it has a massive influence.

"George has come into this [Six Nations] campaign and started to play with a smile on his face and with some real confidence. He is probably getting back to where he was in 2013 and I think he's in a really good place at the moment."