WARREN GATLAND has thrown a hand grenade into Welsh rugby’s ongoing turmoil by admitting he has questioned his position as national coach.
The New Zealander’s startling admission is the last thing Welsh rugby needs and comes on the eve of him formally joining the Lions coaching staff for next summer’s South Africa tour.
Gatland is expected to coach the Lions forwards, with his current Wales assistants Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley working on defence and attack respectively. The Wales contingent will be further enhanced by conditioning coach Craig White and chief analyst Rhys Long also making the 10-match Lions trip.
The appointments will be ratified by Lions chiefs in Dublin today and may give Gatland a 24-hour respite from an escalating political situation.
As Gatland announced his 32-man squad for next month’s Tests against South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, so Wales four professional regions were raising the stakes.
After branding themselves as Regional Rugby Wales, the four regions – Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – unveiled former Welsh Rugby Union boss David Moffett as their interim chief executive.
But while Welsh rugby’s movers and shakers prepared for more political posturing, Gatland is in the dark as to when he can assemble his players ahead of facing world champions South Africa on November 8.
The regions are adamant they will not be released for the autumn opener until after the final round of EDF Energy Cup pool games, which conclude with the Ospreys visiting London Irish on November 2.
And Gatland’s body language today was that of a man who might just be losing patience.
He said: “It has taken the gloss off my position. You just feel frustrated that the two sides can’t get together and thrash it out. I might have to look at it if this carries on. I have already questioned my position at the moment.
“It’s no good for anyone if you send out a team that gets well beaten because it is not prepared. There is pressure on performance and results.”
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