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Gatland 'obvious choice' for Lions

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Former England lock tips Gatland's next destination

World Cup-winning lock Ben Kay believes Warren Gatland is best suited to succeed Eddie Jones at England’s helm.

Kay said Gatland’s track record with Wales and the British and Irish Lions elevates him above other candidates.

Jones is under contract until 2021, while Gatland plans to step away from Wales after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Kay also said Gatland was the “obvious choice” to lead the Lions for a third time when they tour South Africa in 2021.

“Warren Gatland has been making jokes that the RFU cannot afford to hire him to be the next England head coach but Nigel Melville, the governing body’s interim chief executive, ought to start rummaging down the back of the sofa because the case for the Wales head coach to succeed Eddie Jones is strong,” Kay wrote in his column for The Times.

“If he delivers success in the [2019] Six Nations, it may become compelling.”

Kay added that Gatland “is very good at identifying areas to attack, astute at adapting his style to the resources at his disposal. He is a coach with old-school values, which has contributed to his success in coaching the Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 and a draw in his native New Zealand in 2017, but he is not stuck in the past.”

Kay also weighed in on Gatland’s ‘Warrenball’ strategy that saw him employ big backs like Jamie Roberts and George North as crash ball runners.

“He is no one-trick pony,” Kay wrote. “Gatland employed ‘Warrenball’ because it was the right approach to get the best out of the players that he had. I would be fascinated to see what he could do with wider resources, with the different styles of player that would be at his disposal with England.”

Gatland has found great success with Wales, winning two Six Nations Grand Slams and earning a World Cup semifinal berth in 2011. He has been just as successful with the Lions, winning the series in 2013 against Australia and drawing level with New Zealand in 2017.

As a player, hooker Gatland played 17 matches for the All Blacks and a then-record 140 matches for provincial side Waikato.

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Former England lock tips Gatland's next destination