Former Wales coach Warren Gatland has declined an offer to coach the All Blacks and will instead focus on his commitments with the Chiefs and the British & Irish Lions.
Gatland, who led Wales to a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, was on a list of 26 potential candidates for the vacant job after former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen stepped down after seven years at the helm.
As part of the deal to take over from Hansen, Gatland was told that he would have to give up his position as Lions coach for the tour to South Africa in 2021.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the 56-year-old confirmed that he would not be in contention for the post as he wanted to honour his commitments with Chiefs and Lions.
‘It was nice to be contacted, but I politely declined putting my name forward,’ said Gatland, who made 140 appearances for the Waikato Chiefs during his playing career.
‘I just think it would look poor me applying [for the All Blacks job]. I’m a little bit old school. I’d made the commitment to the Chiefs and I’d made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that … honour the commitment I made to those two sides.’
While he won’t be replacing Hansen in the immediate future, Gatland won’t be ruling out coaching the All Blacks later in his career.
‘If I’m successful with the Chiefs, that opportunity might come along again. Maybe it won’t. It’s not at the forefront of my thinking.’
Under Gatland’s guidance, Wales won four Six Nations titles – including three Grand Slams – and reached the World Cup semi-finals at both the 2011 and 2019 editions.
Gatland’s next assignment will be coaching the Barbarians against his former side Wales on 30 November in Cardiff. He will then return to his native New Zealand to continue preparations with the Chiefs for the Vodacom Super Rugby season, which kicks off at the end of January next year.
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