Welsh Rugby
Howley handed Wales caretaker role
ESPNscrum Staff
April 19, 2012
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley addresses the media on the day Mervyn Davies died, Cardiff, March 16, 2012
Rob Howley has been handed the reins for Wales' tour of Australia © Getty Images
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Rob Howley has been appointed Wales' caretaker coach for the forthcoming clashes with the Barbarians and Australia.

Wales boss Warren Gatland fractured both of his ankles in a fall earlier this month and is not expected to recover sufficiently to take charge of the Six Nations Grand Slam champions for their eagerly-awaited tour Down Under.

Gatland has given his backing to Howley with his assistant taking on full control of all aspects ahead of the June 2 date with the Barbarians in Cardiff and the three-Test series against the Wallabies that kicks off in Brisbane on June 9. Howley will continue to liaise with Gatland while on tour and the Welsh Rugby Union remains hopeful that the Kiwi will recover to play a supporting role for the second and third Tests of the series.

"I will give 100% of my effort to ensuring we are fully prepared to meet the challenges and take the great opportunities which lie ahead in this summer series," Howley said in a statement. "We will be working to secure victory against the Barbarians after the defeat we suffered last year and the Tests in Australia are an opportunity for us to deliver a win in the southern hemisphere.

"Along with the rest of the coaching team I am immensely proud to have been offered this opportunity and we will give our all until Warren is ready to take full control again. The players know all about the roles and responsibilities we perform and what we all have to deliver for the national cause over the months ahead."

Rob Howley Factfile

  • 1970: Born October 13, Bridgend
  • 1996: February 3, Wales debut against England
  • 1997: Selected for British & Irish Lions
  • 1998: Handed Wales captaincy
  • 2001: Selected for British & Irish Lions
  • 2002: April 6, makes 59th and final Wales appearance
  • 2005: June, named Cardiff's defence/backs coach
  • 2008: Named Wales assistant coach
  • 2012: April 19, named Wales' caretaker coach

The WRU's chairman Roger Lewis has backed Howley to deliver and also claimed that the opportunity could prove to be an instrumental part of their succession planning, "Warren can now concentrate on getting back to robust health before taking back full control of Wales to continue the great work he has already achieved and Rob can take this opportunity to develop as a coach at the highest level," Lewis said. "The appointment of Rob Howley as caretaker coach is deeply significant for our long term succession planning. Rob has the total support of all of us at the WRU. This is an opportunity for us all in these unforeseen circumstances. We have an outstanding team of coaches and management all of whom are critically important to the success of the national team."

Gatland admitted that it was difficult to accept the doctor's advice but has called on the Welsh public to lend Howley their full backing while in charge of the national team. "During my time in Wales we've put in some young coaches who have developed significantly over the past few years and I believe they are capable of stepping up to the job," Gatland said. "As coaches we debate selections and strategies vigorously and we don't always agree, but once a decision is made we all support it totally.

"I know the Welsh people won't always agree with some of those selection decisions and they have a right to their views, but I would ask them to offer the same kind of support to the coaches once those decisions have been made. I know Rob will be his own man as caretaker coach, but he and I share a similar vision about the international game so the players and coaches will know what is expected of them."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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