Wales assistant Rob Howley hails loyalty of head coach Warren Gatland

Press Association Sport 14:32 14/02/2019
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Rob Howley has hailed Warren Gatland’s honesty and loyalty as the Wales head coach prepares for a final Six Nations showdown with England.

The fierce rivals go head to head in Cardiff on Saturday week, with both sides unbeaten after their opening two games.

There is a strong chance that the winner will go on to become Guinness Six Nations champions, potentially with a Grand Slam thrown in.

Wales head coach Gatland and his team of Howley, Shaun Edwards and Robin McBryde – together since a Six Nations opener against England in 2008 – will break up after the World Cup in Japan later this year.

Howley will join Gatland and Edwards in calling time on a Wales coaching stint that is so far highlighted by three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final appearance.

“Warren is tactically astute about the game, he understands the dynamics of the coaching team and he understands about players and trying to get the best out of them,” Wales attack specialist Howley said.

“The loyalty he has shown to all of us in the coaching team has brought the best out of us as well.

“He backs his fellow coaches and he backs his players. He is a very honest person, which is his endearing quality.

“I have been fortunate to have him as a coach, and I have always said I learnt so much from him as a player when I was at Wasps.

“I was fortunate enough when he asked me to be involved as a coach, and I have continued to learn off him as a coach.

“I think the one thing which he always wants to be is challenged. When you stop allowing coaches and players to be challenging coaches, you stop growing individually as a coach.

“He is always willing to learn, and he teaches us as well in that he allows us to learn as well.”

While only Edwards, who will return to Rugby league as Wigan head coach next year, of the Wales coaching team currently has a confirmed post-World Cup job, Howley is laid-back about his future.

“I am of the viewpoint that what will be, will be,” he added.

“I want to enjoy this year. When you do have discussions, all of a sudden they become headlines, and they become distractions.

“I am purely focused on the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup. I would like to have some time off post-World Cup, and then in 2020 I want to be employed.”

The Gatland era only has a minimum of 11 Tests and, depending on their World Cup fortunes, a maximum 14 to run.

And Howley said: “I’m not one for looking too far back. I am task-orientated, and that means the next game.

“When I’m grey and old – I am grey now! – hopefully I will look back on the last decade with fond memories.

“We have achieved some fantastic success, and it would great for us to go out this year with a superb performance in the Six Nations and success at the World Cup.”

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