Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gatland to decide on Wales future


Scrum V: Coach Warren Gatland on Wales in 2010/11... and beyond?

Wales coach Warren Gatland says he will soon reveal his plans beyond the end of his contract after the 2011 World Cup.

"It's only fair for everyone that I make the decision over the next month," he told the BBC's Scrum V rugby show.

Discussions have taken place between the New Zealander, 46, and Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis to extend his coaching deal to 2015.

But Gatland, who embarks on a charity climb up Kilimanjaro on Monday, has admitted he has options elsewhere.

"There have been a lot of talks with Roger about a possible extension," said Gatland on Sunday's Scrum V programme.

Potentially in 2015, Wales will only lose four or five players

Warren Gatland

"I have to weigh it up with family pressure to return to New Zealand where they're quite keen to have their Dad home.

"But I have to say I've loved my time here, it's been fantastic. Testing at times and challenging, but that's part of international rugby. There's a big part of me that wants to stay."

If Gatland were to take Wales through to the 2015 tournament, he would become the longest-serving national coach in Welsh rugby history.

The Kiwi made a huge impression when he started the job, taking on Wales' 2007 World Cup flops and leading them to the 2008 Grand Slam.

Wales were a competitive fourth in last year's Six Nations, but struggled to just two wins in 2010, and have won just three of their last 10 - against Italy, Scotland and Argentina.

Gatland has won 14 and lost 14 of his 28 games in charge and has led his side to just one win over Tri Nations opposition, the 21-18 victory over Australia in Cardiff in November 2008.

But his desire to return home is set against what he sees as a positive outlook for Wales' prospects in both the short- and long-term.

The breakdown
The offside line
Scrum engagement
Maul formation from line-out

For this season, the new International Rugby Board directives - specifically surrounding the breakdown and the offside rule at kicks - have been to the benefit of attacking sides like Wales.

"We have to think that will help our game and give us a bit more confidence to play a lot more rugby from our own half," said Gatland. "Before teams were afraid to play."

Wales' next challenge is a formidable autumn series at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium when they face Australia, South Africa, 2007 World Cup bogey team Fiji and New Zealand, the Tri Nations sides already thriving under the new IRB directives.

"For us it will be about getting up to that level of intensity [to face the Tri Nations sides]," said Gatland.

"On our summer tour [of New Zealand] we were finding that our tight forwards were running 2km further than they would in any other match... that's really going to test you and you have to ask how you can replicate that."

But should the Wales coach decide to stick with his squad, he sees an even brighter future for the men in red.

"Potentially in 2015, Wales will only lose four or five players [from the current squad]," said Gatland. "Perhaps Martyn Williams, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones and Lee Byrne.

"They would be an old side, but very experienced and with a lot of caps under their belts."

Potenshöjande medel -

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