Lewis departure could impact Gatland future
ESPN Staff
February 24, 2015
Warren Gatland has made four changes to Wales XV to face France on Saturday © Getty Images

Wales head coach Warren Gatland believes that Roger Lewis' departure as Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive later this year "probably does" have a bearing on his own long-term future.

Gatland, who was signed up by Lewis eight years ago, is under contract with Wales until 2019. During his reign, Wales have so far won three Six Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, and reached a World Cup semi-final.

Lewis announced on Tuesday that he will leave his post after the World Cup in October, with the WRU saying that their search for a successor is to begin immediately.

Asked at a press conference on Tuesday if Lewis' exit had any bearing on his long-term future as Wales head coach, Gatland said: "Yeah, it probably does."

Then asked if he would like to elaborate on that, the New Zealander replied: "No."

Gatland has become the most decorated international coach in Welsh rugby history, while Lewis took over the WRU reins nine years ago and has overseen a period of unprecedented success at Test level.

"The relationship the national team has had with Roger in terms of the support he has given us since I have been here is outstanding," Gatland added. "There is no doubt we have got some of the best rugby facilities in the world.

"When we have gone to Roger to ask for things for the team, whether it's been staff or facilities, he's been absolutely outstanding what he's done for us.

"While it's sad from a national team point of view to see somebody go, you have to respect their decision.

"He has decided the time is right. He has overseen a fantastic period of success for Welsh rugby, and the job he's done financially has been outstanding.

"The support he has given us as a chief executive has been superb, particularly when the world was going through a financial crisis.

"He could have easily cut back on a lot of stuff financially, but he kept supporting us. He thought it was priority to support the national team."

Gatland, meanwhile, has recalled wing George North and prop Samson Lee for Saturday's Six Nations clash against France in Paris. Two other changes following the 26-23 victory over Scotland see starts for hooker Scott Baldwin and lock Luke Charteris.

Reflecting on his line-up, Gatland said: "I just felt there was an opportunity to make some changes with the strength in depth we have got in the squad at the moment - and we felt some players deserved a chance as well. That was the thinking behind the changes."

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