Friday, December 25, 2009

I'm not going anywhere - Gatland

Head Coach Warren Gatland has reaffirmed his commitment to take Wales Rugby Team to the next World Cup - and possibly beyond - rubbishing speculation that he might quit.
Following Wales stellar 2008 season Gatland was in higher demand than ever and when his team failed to repeat their Grand Slam exploits this year speculation was rife that the New Zealand would leave for greener pastures, possibly in the Guinness Premiership or even back 'home' at the helm of the All Blacks.
But on Sunday Gatland dismissed any such suggests as ill-informed and underlined his commitment to the Welsh cause at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
"I am absolutely committed to seeing this job through and I'm excited about doing so," Gatland told Wales on Sunday.
"I get frustrated at times when people bring up what has happened in the past as if it is bound to happen again. Coaches have left Wales early for one reason or another but that is historical now.
"In particular people made a big deal about me going to work with the Lions because of what happened to Graham Henry in 2001.
"But I don't know why they thought that the same thing was going to happen with me. Look, anyone who thinks I won't be here in 2011 is wrong - and I may be here longer."
Gatland is currently on spending valuable time with his family in New Zealand but is staying in regular contact with the Wales management team about plans for the new season and has been swapping ideas with former colleagues at Waikato.
While Henry was forced to leave the Wales Rugby Team helm in 2002 due to impact the stress was having on his health, Gatland insists his enthusiasm for the job is a strong as ever.
"For me, the great thing about international rugby is that every game is a big event, a huge occasion," he added.
"Working with players who are always enormously motivated because they are playing for their country is another major attraction.
"The one difficult thing is not having the players to work with for long spells and getting used to the match programme coming in fits and starts.
"The difference in the Wales job, or any international job for that matter, and that of a team that plays every week, is that you have no time to fail because there are so few chances to get it right and every result is crucial.
"But I see these things as positives. The Lions tour was draining no doubt about it.
"It was full-on from day one to the end and there was very little downtime.
"It wasn't like the old tours where you just played Saturday and Wednesday, there was so much analysis and player feedback to get through that there weren't enough hours in the day.
"But I found it a great experience and the best thing was how well the Welsh boys did.
"Yet although it was draining I'm looking forward to getting back to Wales and getting on with the job.
"I certainly have no intention of walking away from Wales Rugby Team- I can't see any reason why I would want to.
"I know in the past lots of coaches have walked away or resigned but that was because the team was in turmoil, or not playing well or there were problems behind the scenes.
"None of those things are the case with us now.
"I have a group of guys who love coming into camp, who enjoy playing and training together and who are motivated at all times and excited about our potential."
Gatland plans to take Wales to New Zealand next year for a tour including two Tests and two games against Super 14 opposition in preparation for the World Cup.
"Provisionally we have made the arrangements which involve a four week tour," said Gatland.
"But it goes without saying it is a hugely important programme for us, and that it comes at a key time.
"I don't think it was until I left New Zealand and came back that I realised just how difficult a country it is to tour, to be honest."

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