Warren Gatland admits All Blacks coaching ambitions despite turning down current opportunity
Warren Gatland has not ruled out the prospect of coaching the All Blacks in future despite having ruled himself out of consideration for the vacant role due to his British and Irish Lions commitments in 2021.
Speaking to The Guardian, the 56-year-old revealed that coaching the side of which he played 17 non-internationals for is “absolutely” an aspiration of his, but he couldn’t apply to be Steve Hansen’s successor due to the dual roles he will hold with both the Lions and Chiefs from next year onwards.
2020 will provide Gatland with a change of scenery as he returns to Hamilton for the first time in over a decade to take the reigns of the Chiefs after having served 12 years as head coach of Wales.
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He couldn’t sign off from his time as the Welsh boss with World Cup glory in Japan last month, falling short to South Africa at the semi-final hurdle, but he believes that should his side have emerged victorious over the Springboks in Yokohama, he would have backed his side to defeat England a week later.
“There wasn’t that fear factor against England. It would have been different if the All Blacks had won their semifinal,” Gatland told The Guardian.
“For some of the Welsh players the All Blacks are still on a pedestal because New Zealand’s the one team we haven’t beaten.
“But against England, psychologically, we would have been confident because the guys have had success and we had an effective gameplan. The results have been 50-50 and knowing you’re capable of beating them makes a massive difference.”
With the game on the line at 16-16 inside the final few minutes, Gatland felt as if Wales could secure the win.
“In our semifinal South Africa kept taking three points to keep the scoreboard ticking over. But there are times when, with momentum, you’re better off going for the scrum or the lineout.
“We got the try and it was 16-16 with six minutes to go. But then South Africa got a penalty. [Handre] Pollard kicked it and it wasn’t to be. But I can’t question the effort of our players. I likened it to a sponge. We squeezed every last drop out of Wales.”
Gatland said it was similar to what England implemented against the All Blacks in their semi-final clash, which Eddie Jones’ side won 19-7.
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“It was one of the best performances by England I’ve ever seen. They were outstanding. Controlled the game. Defended exceptionally well. Attacked well. It was pretty much the complete performance.”
Speaking about the forthcoming Lions trip in South Africa in two years’ time, where he will stand down as Chiefs coach for a season to take control of the British and Irish side, Gatland said that facing the reigning world champions would add value to what would already have been a special tour.
“That adds to the importance of this tour. I thought about the Lions after this World Cup final. It would have been great if England had won from a northern hemisphere point of view. But, looking at it selfishly, would it have been good for the Lions? I think it would have added to the pressure,” he said.
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