The speculation surrounding Warren Gatland’s future is over after the Wales head coach signed a four-year contract to take charge of Super Rugby outfit Chiefs.
Gatland will end an 11-year tenure with the reigning Grand Slam champions after this year’s Rugby World Cup and head home to the Waikato provincial side.
Replacing Colin Cooper at the Chiefs, Gatland’s first season in charge in 2020 will be followed by a break to allow him to pay full attention to the 2021 Lions tour.
It will be the 55-year-old’s third consecutive tour as head coach and his move back home to the team he once played for means he can make a first-hand evaluation of the players who could represent the Springboks in 2021.
On the flip side, Gatland will be absent from watching the Premiership and PRO14 to assess players for his own Lions squad, placing a bigger emphasis on the role of his support staff whom he has yet to name.
Gatland’s plans for the Lions will become clearer in the future, but for now the former hooker who played for the Chiefs between 1986 and 1994 is happy to return home.
“The opportunity to come back as head coach of the Chiefs is something that I am really looking forward to,” Gatland said. “The Chiefs are well known for the success they’ve had both on and off the field and the really loyal support they have from everyone within the Chiefs region.
“I am excited to come back and be a part of the Chiefs community with the players, the fans, the sponsors, it’s something I really look forward to.”
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