Howley accepts Sean O'Brien apology and plans to leave Wales role after World Cup

Coaching in the Premiership or France is on Rob Howley’s bucket list as he plans to leave his position with Wales after the 2019 World Cup.

Provincial Union XV v British and Irish Lions - Toll Stadium British & Irish Lions assistant coach Rob Howley David Davies David Davies

ROB HOWLEY SAID he accepted an apology from Sean O’Brien for criticism leveled at the coach over the recent Lions tour of New Zealand, stating that he also plans to leave his role with Wales in 2019.

The Wales assistant coach said he hopes to take a coaching job in England or France rather than replace Warren Gatland as Lions head coach.

The 47-year-old was speaking for the first time since his spat with Leinster back-row O’Brien, saying he spoke with the 30-year-old over the phone and accepted an apology.

“I was disappointed to hear his remarks and there was a forum on tour to raise concerns,” he said speaking to The Observer this week.

“I exchanged WhatsApp messages with Sean and spoke to him on the phone a couple of days later when he apologised and said that many of the good things he had to say about the tour were left out.”

Sean O'Brien Sean O'Brien criticised Howley's abilities as a coach. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Howley was reported to be on the shortlist to succeed Gatland when the New Zealander’s tenure comes to an end after the World Cup in Japan.

The former Wales scrum-half, who has twice stepped up as interim head coach due to Gatland’s British and Irish Lions commitments, revealed he would rather take on a club role in the Premiership or Top 14 after such a long spell with his country.

“Over the last 12 months, particularly before the autumn series last year, I’d had conversations with close family and friends and decided about finishing in 2019,” said Howley.

“I just think it is the right time. I just feel that come 2019, I would have been here for 11 years and it’s time to move on and be involved elsewhere in a rugby environment.

“I need to examine my own values and look at what I need to do. It is on a bucket list of mine that I want to coach in the Premiership or France. Whether that opportunity comes along, I don’t know.

“I really enjoyed the experience of being interim head coach, and I think to go back and have that experience of being head coach day in, day out over a period of time, maybe longer than a year, would put me in a better place.

“I think I can add a little bit of value, and that’s what I want to do. If that’s over the [Severn] Bridge, if that’s in France, who knows? I have made tough decisions before. The family will come first, they always have.”

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