Gatland hopes 'world class' Edwards stays with Wales until World Cup

Media playback is not supported on this device

Argentina v Wales – second Test
Venue: Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, Santa Fe Date: Saturday, 16 June Kick-off: 20:40 BST
Coverage: Live commentary and scores on the BBC Sport website and app, live commentary on Radio Wales AM and Radio Cymru

Warren Gatland hopes Shaun Edwards remains Wales defence coach until the 2019 World Cup, but would not stand in his way if a job offer came along.

After watching Wales stifle Argentina in their first Test win, head coach Gatland rated Edwards among the world’s top “two or three” defence coaches.

“He’s committed to us until the World Cup,” said Gatland.

“But if other opportunities come along, he needs to consider those because he’s out of contract after the World Cup.”

Gatland added: “There are two or three world-class defensive coaches out there and he’s definitely one of them.”

After working part-time with Cardiff Blues during the 2017-18 campaign – which saw Blues win the European Challenge Cup – Edwards has agreed to take on a similar role as defence coach with Dragons and Ospreys next season.

Recently the former Great Britain rugby league player has been linked with the Harlequins head coach job, the England set-up and a return to the 13-a-side code with his former club Wigan.

Uncertain future for coaches

Gatland, attack coach Rob Howley and Edwards’ Welsh Rugby Union contracts end after the 2019 World Cup in Japan, which runs from 20 September until 2 November.

With Edwards’ future beyond the tournament uncertain, Gatland says coaches and players must take personal circumstances into consideration when planning their careers.

Shaun Edwards (L) was appointed Wales defence coach under Warren Gatland in 2008

“Shaun’s got three children, including two young kids, and this is his livelihood and he needs to make sure that he’s got security for that,” Gatland said.

“That’s how professional sport works.

“It’s not a distraction for the players because they’ve come from environments where changes have been made.

“I’ve been consistent on that whether it’s the players or coaching staff. Them and their families come first before the rugby.”

‘Strong defensive performance’

Gatland hopes Wales produce another strong defensive effort in the second Test against the Pumas in Santa Fe on 16 June after giving Edwards “a lot of time” with the players in the build-up to Saturday’s 23-10 win in San Juan.

“We’ve worked hard with that group of players,” added Gatland.

“Particularly when you see other games and you see how many points are being scored, it was a really strong defensive performance.

“But we’ve got young men who are keen and enthusiastic and that’s what defending is about.

“I spoke to the players before the game and said that we have to get excited about defending and enjoying defending and playing without the ball.

“It looked like they enjoyed the challenge.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Gatland is also happy with his back-row resources.

With Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi and Aaron Shingler among the tour absentees, Ellis Jenkins starred while leading Wales to beating South Africa before James Davies proved his worth against the Pumas.

That has given Gatland a selection “headache” for the second Test.

“When you think about how good Navidi has been recently, Sam Warburton coming back, we haven’t got Faletau here, Shingler has been good for us too, we’ve got a little bit of a headache,” he added.

“We could play in a sevens series with all these loose forwards and I think they’d be champions of the world.

“It’s nice to be in this position and it’s great for everyone to feel like they’re not guaranteed selection, because there are people really biting at their heels and putting them under pressure.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

BBC Sport – Rugby Union

Leave a Reply