Warren Gatland believes that his assistant coach Rob Howley will quit Wales after the 2019 World Cup and doesn’t think that the former Wales scrum-half is one of the three names on the shortlist drawn up to find a new national coach, report Wales Online.
WRU Chairman Gareth Davies revealed over the weekend that they had drawn up a shortlist of three candidates in their search for a new coach to take over the reins from Gatland, who has been in charge since 2008, and that they were hoping to announce his successor next summer.
Howley who has been Gatland’s right-hand man since the start of his tenure and who has taken control of the national team in his boss’ absence on more than one occasion including their 2013 Six Nations triumph, was expected to be on that shortlist.
But speaking yesterday during the WRU’s press conference to unveil their new selection policy, Gatland had this to say about Howley’s future,
“I think having spoken to Rob on a number of occasions, my understanding, from always talking to him, is that after 2019, he was planning to finish with the national team and leave Wales and look for opportunities elsewhere.
“He’s never come out and said anything himself but there’s always been speculation from other people about what he’ll do”.
Speaking about Howley’s time as caretaker coach, which saw him take temporary charge for the 2012-2013 season as well as for the 2016-17 season, he talked about the ‘fantastic opportunities’ his charge had been given,
“He’s had fantastic opportunities in a couple of campaigns where he’s led the team while I’ve been away”.
But once again stressing his belief that Howley would not stay on after 2019, he said,
“But my understanding from always talking to him was that he felt post-2019 was an opportunity for him to go and experience coaching somewhere else”.
Before adding that he didn’t expect to see the 47 year-old’s name on the WRU’s three-man shortlist,
“So I wouldn’t expect that Rob would be one of the people on that list from having previous conversations about what he’s planning to do”.
With Howley apparently out of the race, there will be plenty of intrigue about who exactly is on the shortlist.
Former Chiefs coach and current Glasgow Warriors head honcho Dave Rennie is apparently rated by the WRU, while Wasps coach Dai Young may be another name in the mix.
While if they were looking to appoint a Welsh-based coach, surely the Scarlets’ Kiwi- born coach Wayne Pivac, who led the Scarlets to Pro12 glory this year should come into the equation.
Expect the rumour mill to go into overdrive in the next few months!