Welsh Rugby
Gatland re-affirms Wales commitment
ESPN Staff
August 25, 2012
Wales coach Warren Gatland poses with the Six Nations and Triple Crown silverware, Wales v France, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, March 17, 2012
Warren Gatland parades his silverware © Getty Images

Warren Gatland has re-affirmed his loyalty to Wales after reports he would have left for the Waikato Chiefs if he had been offered enough money.

The New Zealander signed a new deal with the Welsh Rugby Union in 2010 to take him through to the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. But reports quoted him as admitting he would have returned to New Zealand after the 2011 World Cup if contract negotiations with his former club had progressed smoothly.

However, on Friday evening he told Walesonline: "I am totally loyal and fully committed to my role with Wales, and to say otherwise is ridiculous."

Gatland had told stuff.co.nz: "I nearly made the decision after the World Cup [to return to New Zealand] and it was a toss of the coin. I was going to come back and I had been offered the Chiefs job and New Zealand made me an offer of a contract.

"I went back to New Zealand and I said to them: 'Look, it's not about the money but I am finding it a little bit difficult to accept the contract, is there a chance of any movement on it'? [I told them] 'Well, you have offered me less money than I was on in 2007 when I was coaching Waikato and was involved with the Chiefs, to coach the Chiefs in 2012'."

But Gatland has now insisted those quotes were taken out of context, going on to say the they were taken during an informal visit to University of Waikato and he remains fully committed to Wales.

"These remarks have come from a visit I paid to the university and from conversations I had informally when I tried to be as honest as possible," he told Walesonline. "It wasn't an interview situation and it's frustrating the way this has been portrayed.

"When you have job offers you look at them like anyone would and salary obviously comes into it. But it's in the past and not relevant now in any way to me or to Wales. The interest from Waikato was widely known anyway, but it is ancient history.

"I am with Wales and completely committed moving forward. If I wasn't committed do people seriously think I would stay for so long on the other side of the world from my family? This has all been taken out of context and become a bit misinterpreted. It really shouldn't be an issue."

Gatland added:"I am happy and looking forward to the challenges that are coming our way with Wales."

A WRU spokesperson said: "Warren Gatland has made it clear that his personal debate about his future took place and was resolved before his Wales contract was put in place in October 2010, a full year before the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand."

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