Wales insist Gatland staying until RWC 2015

The Welsh Rugby Union have insisted that Warren Gatland is staying with Wales and issued a hands-off warning to New Zealand rugby bosses.

WRU boss Roger Lewis was responding to a comments made by All Blacks great and New Zealand Rugby Union board member Graham Mourie who said Gatland could be in line to succeed Graham Henry as New Zealand coach.

All Blacks coach Henry is expected to step down at the end of the Rugby World Cup and the New Zealand Rugby Union are drawing up their succession plans.

Gatland is however contracted to lead Wales until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England after he extended his contract last autumn.

WRU chief executive Lewis is adamant Wales will be able to hold on to Gatland if the All Blacks or anyone else knock on his door.

“Warren is a key pillar in our strategy and that’s why I concluded negotiations with him in New Zealand in June last year,” said Lewis.

“Some of the WRU board felt we should, perhaps understandably, leave it (Gatland’s future) until after the World Cup.”

Lewis said that he believed it was a gamble at the time but it was worth taking as Gatland’s future had to be secured as he would be in demand if Wales performed well at the World Cup.

Lewis’ decision has now been proved correct as Wales have impressed on their way to reaching the quarter-finals where they will face Ireland.

“I felt in Warren’s case, with his commitment to Wales, we needed to do it,” Lewis told the Western Mail.

“He has made a huge, personal sacrifice with his wife and kids living thousands of miles away in New Zealand.

“We had seen what he was capable of and the great people he has assembled around him, the systems and structures he has created.

“That confidence has now paid off. We are having a remarkable World Cup and it has proved what we started last year was right.

“Warren signed with us just before the autumn internationals and it’s an absolute watertight contract until the end of the 2015 World Cup.

“I have discussed with Warren what happens if he gets offers. I have made it clear we have made a huge commitment to him and he has to us.

“What’s so exciting for the coaching team and backroom staff is the extraordinary group of young talented players it has at its disposal.

“The next four years promises to be so exciting for Welsh rugby and it certainly wouldn’t make sense for Warren to leave us.

“It’s hugely flattering for Warren and for the WRU that other countries are interested in him but it’s hands-off our coach.

“I knew the better the World Cup we have, the more in demands our people were going to be.

“Welsh rugby can be proud it’s got its long-term planning right.”

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