Warren Gatland endorsed Scott Robertson as the next All Blacks coach after his dramatic return to the helm of Wales for the Rugby World Cup was announced.
Gatland – who coached Wales from 2008-19 – has replaced fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac following the 39-34 capitulation against the Wallabies in Cardiff last month.
Pivac agreed to resign before he was sacked while New Zealand Rugby released Gatland from his Super Rugby Pacific contract with the Chiefs.
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It is bad news for the Wallabies, who are in the same pool as Wales at next year’s World Cup in France.
Gatland is the most successful Wales coach in the professional era, winning four Six Nations titles and reaching two World Cup semi finals from three attempts.
“The buzz of rugby and being involved in the Six Nations and World Cup was the tempting factor,” Gatland said.
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“I loved my time here and I wouldn’t have stayed as long if I hadn’t been so well received.
“I’m confident that I can come in and make a difference, make a side that are proud to put that jersey on and are prepared to die for it. I don’t expect anything less from the players. If we can achieve that in a short period of time, that’ll give us the best opportunity to be successful.
“The advantage I’ve got is I know the set-up and so many people involved so I can hit the ground running.”
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Gatland gave a press conference in Hamilton on Tuesday and backed in-demand Crusaders coach Scott Robertson as the successor to All Blacks boss Ian Foster.
Robertson has guided the Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles since 2017.
“There’s one person at the moment in New Zealand who’s been incredibly successful, in terms of Razor,” Gatland said.
“And he deserves an opportunity… if they were going to make a change. You can’t deny his results and stuff, they just stick out like a sore thumb. That’s the way that I look at it, he’s an obvious choice .
“There’s only one stand-out person, and New Zealand should be doing everything they can to make sure they can secure his services long-term.”
Robertson is itching for an opportunity at international level and has also been linked with the England and Australia posts.
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“Things have changed in world rugby,” Gatland said.
“In the past, New Zealand would advertise for All Blacks positions and think that 30 coaches in the world are going to put their names forward, and then all of a sudden they realise, ‘oh actually we’ve only got two people put their names forward, which is what happened last time (Foster and Robertson).’
“So you’ve got to change your focus in terms of identifying the people that you want to talk to, you’ve got to keep that as confidential as possible, and that process should be starting now. You can’t wait till after the World Cup and think people are going to come knocking on your door, because that doesn’t happen in professional sport.
“And that’s how other countries are doing it at the moment, they’re drawing up lists of a small number of candidates that they want to talk to over the next few months, and some of them are looking to make announcements early next year. “
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