Gatland, who coached the British & Irish Lions to a series victory in Australia last summer, has taken his Wales side to South Africa this month.
The tour kicks off on Tuesday and the 50-year-old has picked a handful of uncapped players as they prepare for the first Test on Saturday.
The youthful side will be captained by Lions flanker Dan Lydiate, while fellow tourists Alex Cuthbert and Ian Evans start on the right wing and in the second row respectively.
George North will start from the replacements' bench, with a whole host of other Lions missing altogether, but Gatland knows the importance of starting a tour on the front foot.
"The target is to win," he said. "I had only just been in charge when we were here in 2008. We were well beaten in the first Test and came back and were unlucky in the second Test.
"We were in front and had a couple of rough calls go against us in the second Test.
"We need to start well and get some confidence and hopefully we can win.
"A couple of years ago in Australia we were very unlucky. We were close to South Africa in the autumn and we are not here to make up the numbers.
"We are here to build, get some confidence and hopefully to win the series."