Warren Gatland Says Many Have Called . . . But Not England

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Graham Thomas

Graham is a well known sports writer in Wales. He shares with the Eye stories on his other blog at http://www.dai-sport.com
Run for it!

Warren Gatland has denied being approached by England to take over from Eddie Jones after the World Cup.

Gatland will leave his role with Wales after this year’s tournament following a successful 12 years in charge and has been linked with becoming England head coach.

The 55-year-old said he has been contacted over his future but insisted the Rugby Football Union was not among the suitors so far.

“I have had quite a number of approaches from different sources,” said Gatland.

“It is a matter of making the right decision at the right time, so it’s just weighing those things up.

“To be honest, my whole focus is about the next six or seven months, Wales and the World Cup.

“I haven’t spoken to England at all. I think they were quite clear in what they were doing in terms of they wouldn’t be making any appointments or talking to anyone until post-Rugby World Cup.”

Gatland was speaking after naming a 42-man Wales World Cup training squad that included uncapped Cardiff Blues players Owen Lane and Rhys Carre.

Prop Carre, who will join Saracens later this year, and wing Lane are in a group that comprises 19 backs and 23 forwards.

Gatland has included 36 of his squad selected for this season’s Six Nations, when Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions.

Bath’s British and Irish Lions number eight Taulupe Faletau, who has missed much of this season due to injury, is selected, along with back-row colleagues Aaron Shingler and James Davies.

There is also a place for experienced Ospreys lock Bradley Davies as Wales face a busy summer of preparation that features four warm-up Tests.

Injured flankers Ellis Jenkins and Thomas Young are both excluded, but could come into consideration later this summer depending on their recoveries.

Gatland said: “It is exciting to name our training squad and to get the RWC ball rolling.

“We’ve named a 42-man squad, packed with experience. A good number of the Grand Slam-winning squad are in there, plus some players who have returned from injury.

“The last couple of years have been about building depth and exposing players, and we have done that well, so we have kept the numbers down to make the squad as manageable as possible.

“We have been really impressed with Rhys and with Owen. They have both been on our succession plan for a while, and it will be good to have them in camp with us and to see what they are able to do.”

Wales kick off their World Cup campaign in Japan against Georgia on September 23, which is followed by pool stage appointments with Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

Wales’ busy summer of preparation will be spearheaded by home and away games against England and Ireland, starting at Twickenham on August 11 and finishing in Dublin 27 days later.

Gatland is set to name his final World Cup squad during the week of the second Ireland game.

The New Zealander will also oversee training camp trips to Switzerland in July and Turkey the following month.

Wales will replicate their 2015 World Cup build-up in Switzerland, again basing themselves at Fiesch in the Swiss Alps for two weeks.

On August 18 they will depart for warm-weather training at Turkey’s Gloria Sports Arena before heading to Japan just over three weeks later and a further training camp in Kitakyushu.

Gatland is delighted with the strength in depth available to him after naming his extended World Cup training squad.

And he insists Wales are in a healthy position just six months out from rugby’s global showpiece event in Japan.

“The reason that we’ve picked a squad of that number is to potentially give everyone an opportunity,” said Gatland.

“We’ve got three warm-up games before we pick the squad before the last game against Ireland. We’re in a different place at the moment, in 2015 we were looking at building depth.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of depth at the moment. We have 18 players with World Cup experience in the squad so it’s a matter of planning what we’re going to do.

“It might not be so much of mix and matching in the warm-up games. If I look at the World Cup, we’ll probably go fully loaded against Georgia, Australia and Fiji and potentially make changes for Uruguay.

We may need to replicate that in the warm-up games.”

Gatland has also selected two uncapped players in his 42 man squad with Cardiff Blues wing Lane being rewarded for his blistering try scoring form this season.

Lane is joined by fellow Blues youngster Carre with the 21-year-old loose-head prop having impressed this season.

He said: “Owen’s impressed us during the season and has been unlucky with injuries before a couple of other campaigns. He might have made one of the other squads.

“Unfortunately, he’s picked up another injury on the weekend that will keep him out for a while. Rhys has been part of our succession plan. We’ve got a couple of other players on that succession plan.

“We’re looking at nine front rowers for the World Cup. We’ve only picked three hookers at this stage with four tightheads and four looseheads just to make sure that, if we do pick up an injury, we’ve been working with someone else to cover that.”

The post Warren Gatland Says Many Have Called . . . But Not England appeared first on Dai Sport.


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Graham is a well known sports writer in Wales. He shares with the Eye stories on his other blog at http://www.dai-sport.com