The rugby world had grand plans for Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland over the next four years, but few would have accounted for the roadblock he has hit over the past two months. Having become the two-time Super Rugby winners’ head coach at the beginning of the year following 11 years with Wales, the blueprint seemed to be that he would embark on his third tour with the British and Irish Lions in 2021, before ascending to take charge of the All Blacks after that. 

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However, with an unprecedented losing streak and zero wins from their opening six matches in Super Rugby Aotearoa, new questions are being asked about Gatland and plans may be changing. 

Recently crowned the best coach in the world by Rugby World, Gatland would have known the burgeoning expectation that awaited him upon his return to Hamilton. Indeed, his tenure started well, with the Chiefs winning four of their opening six matches of the regular Super Rugby season. 

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Unfortunately, a slight slump during the enforced break from the COVID-19 pandemic meant his side have been scrambling for confidence in a competition where there are no easy games. 

In light of this poor run, fans have not held back on social media, with many feeling his northern hemisphere style is not suited in Super Rugby. That had long been the fear for some fans, and there is no doubt that many will feel vindicated by this barren spell Gatland’s side are enduring. 

While the bulk of his silverware throughout his career has been in the northern hemisphere, it must be noted that he did with the Air New Zealand Cup with Waikato in 2006. On top of that, this season has at times been a masterclass by the Chiefs in blowing leads. 

Gatland’s men could not hold onto a 17-14 second-half advantage at the weekend against the Blues, eventually losing 21-14. That was eclipsed by the 79th minute drop-goal landed by his very own son, Bryn, against the Highlanders in round one. Those two losses pale into insignificance compared to squandering a 24-point lead against the same team in round six. 

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So while only a few marginal changes in each match could have provided a completely different complexion to the season for the Chiefs, supporters are growing increasingly impatient. 

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