Warren Gatland 'under no illusions what the expectations are' after Wales return
Warren Gatland says he is “under no illusions what the expectations are” after signing on for a second coaching stint with Wales to mastermind next year’s Six Nations and World Cup campaigns.
And the 59-year-old New Zealander also delivered a short response to questions about speculation linking him with England’s top job, adding: “Don’t believe everything you read in newspapers”.
A Rugby Football Union review is currently assessing England’s poor Autumn Nations Series amid uncertainty surrounding head coach Eddie Jones’ future.
A decision on whether Jones goes or stays is likely in the next 48 hours, but Gatland has committed to Wales.
He replaces Wayne Pivac as head coach, with the Welsh Rugby Union confirming Pivac’s departure following their review of Wales’ autumn series that included a home defeat against Georgia.
WRU chief executive Steve Phillips said Gatland, who leaves his position as rugby director at the New Zealand-based Chiefs with immediate effect, will take charge of Wales for the Six Nations later this season, and the World Cup in France, which starts in September.
But Phillips added that there is “the ability to go through the next World Cup cycle up to and including Australia 2027”.
Wales won just 13 of 34 Tests under Pivac’s direction after he succeeded Gatland following the 2019 World Cup.
And Gatland now makes an extraordinary return to the post he held between 2008 and 2019, during which time Wales won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, reached two World Cup semi-finals and briefly headed the world rankings.
Speaking to reporters via Zoom from New Zealand, Gatland said: “At the end of the day, I know it is a pressure job with a lot of expectation.
“But the buzz of international rugby, being involved in the Six Nations, World Cup – I think they were the key factors to sway me to come back.
“I am under no illusions what the expectations are, but I have always loved the challenges.
“I have always loved going into environments with their expectations, and hopefully exceeding the expectations.
“The advantage I’ve got is that I know the set-up and that I know so many of the people involved, so I think I can hit the ground running.
“I think that’s a massive advantage that I’ve got in terms of knowing Wales and the set-up. I think I can come in there and hopefully be pretty seamless in stepping into the role.”
And on England, he said: “I am only here really to speak about Wales, but what I can say is, don’t believe everything you read in newspapers.”
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free