Wales Rugby
Rob Howley ready to step up for Wales
ESPNscrum Staff
April 23, 2012
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, Heineken Cup press conference, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, May 17, 2010
Rob Howley will take temporary charge of Wales with coach Warren Gatland currently sidelined with two fractured ankles © Getty Images

Wales caretaker boss Rob Howley intends to draw on what he has learnt working alongside coaching greats Warren Gatland, Sir Ian McGeechan and Sir Graham Henry when he leads the side to Australia later this year.

The 41-year-old former British & Irish Lions scrum-half, who was put in temporary charge of the side earlier this month when it emerged Gatland would not recover from a freak fall in time to travel with his squad, insists he has the skill set to fill the sizeable void thanks to his vast international experience.

"Having been there as a player, having toured with the Lions as a player and coach and captained and coached Wales, I think I have had preparation for the challenge," he told the Western Mail.

Howley, who has worked under Gatland with Wales since 2008, is also hotly-tipped to deputise again next year with his boss all but assured of getting the nod for the Lions' tour of Australia next year.

"I've learned a hell of a lot off Warren and the likes of Ian McGeechan and Graham Henry. OK, the buck stops with me as head coach for now, but we have a brilliant management team who are also going to have a big influence.

"I am fairly relaxed about it. The last couple of days I have sat down once or twice in a corner and thought 'flipping heck'! But I have had a good education and while this may have come sooner than I thought because of exceptional circumstances, the overriding thing is that Warren was not more seriously hurt. He might have fallen on his head."

Howley also hinted that Gatland may well join up with the squad in Australia before the end of their three-Test series that follows a warm-up clash with the Barbarians in Cardiff.

"The board have asked me to fill in for Gats, but I am mindful that we need him to be up and running," Howley added. "We're still hopeful that he will be able to come out to Australia in the second or third week of the tour.

"I've spoken to him and it's early to pass judgement on when he'll be up and running. His right foot took a huge impact and there's big swelling around the area which is making it hard to make a prognosis. But, knowing Warren as I do, he will probably, in some capacity, try to get over to Australia, though if that doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

Howley is also going to lean heavily on his coaching colleagues - Shaun Edwards, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins. "It is an opportunity for all the coaching staff and it is an exciting challenge. The way we work as a team will carry on. Warren has developed all of us over the last four years."

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