One of the leading contenders to replace Warren Gatland has ruled himself out of the running.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, who led them to the Super Rugby title last season, was surprised to be linked to the role when asked whether he’d be interested by Radio Sport in New Zealand.
“Wowee, I don’t know about that, I’m not sure where that’s come from.”
Robertson, who is a regular surfer, also quipped “Wow, I don’t know if they have got a wave pool in Cardiff but it’s always flattering to get those opportunities.”
Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie and Scarlets supremo Wayne Pivac are two other names reportedly on the Welsh Rugby Union shortlist, but 43-year-old Roberton insisted he’s not had any contact.
“I suppose that is part of the coaching job, when a new job comes up your name is going to be bandied around. No, I haven’t heard anything.”
Gatland is due to leave at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and with Robertson’s deal with the Crusaders coming to an end he wouldn’t require a severance fee should the WRU could knocking.
“Like I said it (the speculation) is flattering, but no, I have not heard anything – I am happy here.”
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Meanwhile Rennie, who took over Glasgow at the start of the 2017/18 season, only signed a two-year deal, which would leave him available at the end of the 2018/19 season. Rennie is also being spoken about as a possible replacement for Steve Hansen with the All Blacks, such is his reputation back home.
In terms of international pedigree, the 54-year-old can boast three U20 World Championships with New Zealand, while he claimed two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs, in 2012 and 2013. The brand of rugby played by the Chiefs under Rennie will also be admired by rugby purists in Wales, and that style of play has been incorporated by Glasgow too with Rennie, continuing where Gregor Townsend left off.
Pivac led the Scarlets to the semi-finals of the Champions Cup this season, having recovered from losing their opening two pool 5 games to qualify for the knockout stage. They also reached the final of the PRO14, Leinster were the team to stop them on each occasion.
One advantage that Pivac has over Rennie is the fact he’s been coaching in Wales since 2014, he knows the landscape both in terms of players and structure. He was initially brought in as an assistant to Simon Easterby, before being handed the head coach role a few months later when Easterby left for Ireland. He’s made steady progress, a 6th place finish in 2015 was followed by a 5th in 2016 and in 2017 his swashbuckling attacking side won the PRO12 title, blasting past Munster 46-22 in the final.
The former policeman also has senior international experience with Fiji, whom he led to the 2004 Pacific Tri-Nations, while in 2005 he helped Fiji’s seven’s side to Rugby World Cup Sevens title.
Back in New Zealand he’s coached Northland, Auckland and North Harbour.
Only last October Pivac signed a new Scarlets contract until 2020, but earlier this season revealed that the WRU had enquired about him.
“There has been nothing formal, just discussions around my contract here, which I recently signed. As you would expect, I am pretty sure most coaches in Wales at the highest levels would have those conversations.”
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