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'He's better off not taking it' - Should Warren Gatland return as Wales head coach?
Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey discussed the former Wales boss’ links to his old job on Monday’s ‘Rugby Weekly Extra’.

MONDAY’S RUGBY WEEKLY Extra podcast for The42 members touched upon the varying fortunes of several international coaches coming out of November, from the pressure now facing England’s Eddie Jones to South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus’ ‘victory’ over World Rugby in his longstanding battle against match officials.

Former Grenoble and Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman, The42 rugby journalist Murray Kinsella, and presenter Gavan Casey also explored the future for Wales, which now looks almost certain to take place without their under-fire head coach Wayne Pivac.

Following a spectacular collapse in an otherwise strong performance against Australia — a result which may prove transformative for Pivac’s opposite number Dave Rennie — it was widely reported that the Welsh boss is set to be replaced for the upcoming World Cup year by his predecessor, Warren Gatland.

As part of their conversation on today’s pod, Casey asked Jackman and Kinsella if they believed a return to the Welsh hotseat would be the right career move for Gatland, or whether the Kiwi might quickly realise that the cracks he and his staff managed to paper over during his previous stint in charge have since become irreparable chasms in his absence.

Jackman replied: “The problem that he would have now is that the generation that he got the best out of are older or finished. Plus, he won’t have Robin McBryde, Rob Howley, Shaun Edwards for this 12-month block. He may be able to get Howley back — but putting the band back together, that’s the problem.

“They were very comfortable in each other’s skin as a coaching group. There was a lot of cohesion there, there was a real understanding of what each character brought to it.

“Warren went to the Chiefs and inherited a coaching group that he didn’t know a huge amount about. I think it was difficult because he has a very clear philosophy in how he wants to play.

I would say he’s better off not taking it, in my own opinion.

“He’s definitely open to coming back to this side of the world. I think he realises that the All Blacks job probably isn’t going to happen for him. Wales may go for him, he may take it because he’ll see the upside of bringing Wales back to a World Cup, a Six Nations and getting them going again. And certainly, he has the credibility to do that.

I just think with the current state of the regional game, the fact that that golden generation are probably past it in a lot of cases, and the fact that he won’t have his old coaching team together… [he shouldn't take it.] ‘Gats’ is not a Joe Schmidt type of coach where he’s all over every single detail. He’s more about feel and subtle motivational tactics, giving the group confidence. And I do think having a coaching staff that he knows really well is key to him, as well.

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warren-gatland Robbie Stephenson / INPHO Former Wales boss Warren Gatland has been linked with a return to his former role. Robbie Stephenson / INPHO / INPHO

“Like, he risks ruining his legacy,” Kinsella added. “His legacy is undoubted. What he achieved is incredible — particularly because the regions weren’t strong. It was a phenomenal period of sustained success. I just wonder how much a coach thinks of their legacy.

If he comes back, let’s be really honest, here: the squad is just not very good at the moment. I look through the squad and go, ‘Yeah, Pivac hasn’t done a good job’ — I wouldn’t with argue that. But he’s not working with similar cattle to the ones that Gatland was. The older crop of players have kind of gone stale. The younger players: some of them have the ability to be top internationals but they’re not.

Jackman replied: “He’s been doing it so long, he’ll back himself innately. My gut feeling is he’ll see it as an opportunity. He’ll back himself against the best in the world.

The competitor in him would prefer to be [at the World Cup] with a team — even if he doesn’t have all the tools — than be there on the sideline with a mic. But it could do him serious damage and also, to be honest, when Gats was there he wasn’t widely appreciated by a lot of the Welsh public. There was a lot of criticism over how they played. They were very poor in November, consistently, compared to how they did in the Six Nations. It’s a tough audience to please.

Jackman, Kinsella and Casey also discussed Munster’s momentum-building, bonus-point victory over Connacht in the URC on Saturday, and Jackman gave a detailed insight into the interview process for rugby coaching roles.

To listen to the full podcast, which airs every Monday and every Wednesday with former Ireland and Melbourne Rebels performance coach Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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