‘I’m gone!’: No rest for busy Warren Gatland as he returns to New Zealand for new Super Rugby role with Chiefs
- Warren Gatland’s Barbarians side lost to his former team Wales on Saturday
- Gatland left his Wales post which had held for 12 years after the World Cup
- The 56-year-old will be the Chiefs’s head coach for the new Super Rugby season
Warren Gatland bid a final farewell to Wales with a special send-off match with his former flame.
Having coached the Barbarians against the team he led so spectacularly for 12 years Gatland flew home to start a new career – and life – back in New Zealand.
But there will be no rest for the 56-year-old as he prepares his Chiefs side for Super Rugby.
Warren Gatland returned to New Zealand immediately to begin work with the Chiefs
‘My WRU contract doesn’t actually finish until the end of December, but I’m gone!’ Gatland explained after the game against Wales.
‘I’ll get picked up by a friend from Auckland on Tuesday, go and pick up my car and then have a shower and go to training – that’s Tuesday for me!
‘I’m really excited about Super Rugby and what challenges that poses.’ He had close to 40 family and friends from London, Ireland and New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday, some at the stadium for the first time as he waved goodbye to Wales.
‘My wife Trudi organised a dinner for 38 or 39 people on Friday,’ he said.
‘For a lot of my family members it was the first time they a lot of them had been over here in the whole time I’ve been here in Wales.
‘I had my mother over with a couple of sisters and Trudi had cousin, aunts, uncles and her mum and dad too – it was brilliant for them to experience what for me is the best rugby stadium in the world.’
Gatland had encouraging words for incoming Wales boss Wayne Pivac (left)
It was a strange experience for him, and new Wales boss Wayne Pivac.
Gatland sat in the opposition coaching box, Pivac and his team arrived through the newly named ‘Gatland Gate’ and fans caught a glimpse of what they hope will be an equally glittering era.
Wales won as they scored six tries to the BaaBaas’ five – Ken Owens taking two, Josh Adams, Gareth Davies and Johnny McNicholl – on his first appearance – the others.
Outgoing forwards coach Robin McBryde, who is linking up with Leinster this week having helped Gatland coach the BaaBaas against Wales, knows the new coaches have the players to keep challenging.
‘I’m jealous of any coach that comes in to work with those players,’ said McBryde.
‘The potential they have is fantastic – and you need good players to make you a good coach.
‘Guys like Ollie Griffiths, Seb Davies, Leon Brown have such a bright future ahead of them so to be part of that will be really special. I hope the next 12 years are as special as the last 12.’
Gatland was pleased that Jarrod Evans, who he decided not to pick for the World Cup after a shaky showing here against Ireland in the warm-ups back in August, played well.
Aaron Wainwright put in another very promising display in the back row for Wales
And he highlighted Aaron Wainwright, who played No 8, as a star for the near future.
‘He showed what a quality player he will be in the future, whether he is at 6, 7 or 8,’ added Gatland.
‘Wales are lucky with the depth they’ve got and the combinations they can put together.
‘The new regime has come in and I wish them all the best. It’s brilliant for them to have had that week together for the Six Nations – I thought they played well.
‘They want to be positive in the way they play which is good. They’ll learn about getting the balance right between playing and over playing.
‘I’m delighted for the players and hope they have a great Six Nations.
‘I am so indebted to the people of Wales for the opportunities that I’ve had.
‘Hopefully we’ve had a chance to put a smile on people’s faces. To be able to do that has been pretty special.’
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