'He deserves an opportunity': Who Gatland believes should coach the ABs next
Incoming Wales coach Warren Gatland has thrown his support behind Crusaders coach Scott Robertson for the All Blacks’ top job, should the position become available in the near future.
The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed on Monday that Gatland would be replacing Wayne Pivac as the head coach of Wales, just 10 months out from next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Rugby guru Gatland is set to return to Wales for his second stint in charge of the national team, after guiding Cymru to two World Cup semi-finals and three Grand Slams during his initial reign.
But Gatland’s decision to head back north from New Zealand, where he was working with the Chiefs in Super Rugby, all but rules himself out of taking over from Ian Foster – again, should that position become vacant.
Instead, the three-time British and Irish Lions coach has urged the New Zealand Rugby Union to do “everything they can” to ensure Robertson stays in Aotearoa “long-term.”
“There’s one person at the moment in New Zealand who’s been incredibly successful, in terms of Razor,” Gatland told reporters in a press conference.
“He deserves an opportunity because of the success he’s had in New Zealand rugby, if that comes along for the next period.
“There’s only one standout person and New Zealand should be doing everything they can to make sure they secure his services long-term and going forward.”
While Gatland achieved some incredible feats during his first stint with Wales, this is still a bombshell call for the WRU to make with the World Cup on the horizon.
But Wales needed change, and that was pretty clear after final two Test matches of the year.
After winning the 2021 Six Nations title, Wales’ fall from grace reached a new low at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium over consecutive weekends.
Wales were beaten by Georgia for the first time ever in a thriller last month, before squandering a seemingly unconquerable lead against the Wallabies.
But under the tutelage of super coach Gatland, who is set to enter the fray of international rugby for the first time since last year’s Lions tour, Wales might just be able to turn this around.
Gatland said he’s looking forward to the “exciting” opportunity to return to international rugby ahead of the World Cup.
“The results of that review were that they decided to make a change and so I was contacted about ‘would you be interested in talking to us?’ I always believed there’s no harm in talking.
“The focus for me is on the next nine months, 10 months, because (of) the Six Nations. The exciting thing about international rugby building into a World Cup is that you have that extended period and time together to build for a World Cup.
“When you’re in other international campaigns you get a couple of weeks with a team and it’s about having to prioritise that sort of preparation which makes it challenging.
“I had that approach and had to talk to the family about what they thought and their support and we kind of concluded things over the last sort of 72 hours.”
Wales are in Pool C along with familiar foes Australia and Fiji, who they played at the 2019 instalment of rugby’s biggest event.
The other two nations in the pool are Georgia and Portugal.
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