Wales boss Gatland confident Six Nations game will go ahead despite 'genuine' strike threat

Wales coach Warren Gatland is confident Saturday's strike-threatened Six Nations clash against England in Cardiff will go ahead despite what he said was a "genuine threat" of a players' strike.

Players in Wales are threatening to down tools over a contract dispute and are reportedly ready to strike if their demands are not met by Wednesday.

Gatland had been scheduled to announce his team to play England at 1200 GMT on Tuesday but still went ahead with a planned press conference in the absence of a matchday 23.

Asked if he was confident the game would go ahead, Gatland told reporters: "Absolutely. I'm hearing positive things from both sides.

The New Zealander said the team announcement was delayed due to the uncertainty of the situation.

"There's a lot of meetings," he said. "I just wanted clarity for the boys with tomorrow (Wednesday) then we come back Thursday (for a team announcement)."

"Hopefully, those things get resolved and the boys turn up on Thursday raring to go for Saturday."

- 'Middle ground' -

Gatland, asked about the prospect of a strike if no agreement was reached, replied: "I think it is a genuine threat, there is no doubt about that.

"What the players were asking for is definitely reasonable. There needs to be some negotiation. It's like everything, you have to find some middle ground."

Calling off the England game could cost the Welsh Rugby Union an estimated £9 million ($11 million).

Last week, the Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) said the delay was causing "unacceptable strain on mental health and overall wellbeing".

A new financial agreement between the four Welsh regions -- Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets -- and the WRU has still to be confirmed in writing.

That has sparked concern that a sizeable number of players whose contracts expire at the end of this season will leave Wales due to uncertainty over their futures.

Talks on a new six-year financial agreement between Wales' Professional Rugby Board and the players are ongoing.

The players want Wales' minimum 60-cap selection rule for players at clubs outside the country scrapped, a voice at PRB meetings and a review of proposed fixed-variable contracts.

Those contracts would guarantee a player only 80 percent of their salary, with the remaining 20 percent comprising bonuses.

Wales have lost their opening two games of the Six Nations for the first time in 16 years, with defeat by Ireland followed by a record 35-7 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.

Gatland was adamant Wales would still give a good account of themselves if Saturday's match at the Principality Stadium went ahead, despite a chaotic build-up.

"I don't think there is going to be any lack of motivation for a player playing against England," said Gatland.

"The boys have got a day off tomorrow (Wednesday), and I am sure if things are resolved they will come back and they will be completely focused on the game."

England defence coach Kevin Sinfield insisted later on Tuesday his side were just concentrating on themselves as they looked to make it two wins out of three under new boss Steve Borthwick.

"We've planned as normal, nothing's changed for us," he said.