Incoming Wales coach Warren Gatland has thrown his support behind Crusaders coach Scott Robertson for the All Blacks’ top job, should the position become available in the near future.
The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed on Monday that Gatland would be replacing Wayne Pivac as the head coach of Wales, just 10 months out from next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Rugby guru Gatland is set to return to Wales for his second stint in charge of the national team, after guiding Cymru to two World Cup semi-finals and three Grand Slams during his initial reign.
But Gatland’s decision to head back north from New Zealand, where he was working with the Chiefs in Super Rugby, all but rules himself out of taking over from Ian Foster – again, should that position become vacant.
Instead, the three-time British and Irish Lions coach has urged the New Zealand Rugby Union to do “everything they can” to ensure Robertson stays in Aotearoa “long-term.”
“There’s one person at the moment in New Zealand who’s been incredibly successful, in terms of Razor,” Gatland told reporters in a press conference.
“He deserves an opportunity because of the success he’s had in New Zealand rugby, if that comes along for the next period.
“There’s only one standout person and New Zealand should be doing everything they can to make sure they secure his services long-term and going forward.”
While Gatland achieved some incredible feats during his first stint with Wales, this is still a bombshell call for the WRU to make with the World Cup on the horizon.
But Wales needed change, and that was pretty clear after final two Test matches of the year.
After winning the 2021 Six Nations title, Wales’ fall from grace reached a new low at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium over consecutive weekends.
Wales were beaten by Georgia for the first time ever in a thriller last month, before squandering a seemingly unconquerable lead against the Wallabies.
But under the tutelage of super coach Gatland, who is set to enter the fray of international rugby for the first time since last year’s Lions tour, Wales might just be able to turn this around.