Tuesday 12 November 2019

Gatland rings changes as he signs off with Wales

Warren Gatland. Photo: PA
Warren Gatland. Photo: PA

Nigel Whittaker

Warren Gatland says "it has been some experience" as he prepares to call time on his success-laden Wales coaching career.

Gatland's 12-year reign will end following the World Cup bronze medal match between Wales and New Zealand in Tokyo tomorrow.

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He will return home to New Zealand and take charge of Hamilton-based Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs, while he will also coach the 2021 British and Irish Lions in South Africa.

Gatland's stint with Wales has seen them win four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, reach two World Cup semi-finals and be ranked as the world's number one team.

"It has been some experience," he said. "I have said on a number of occasions, I never thought I would have been in Wales for 12 years.

"I am very privileged to have worked with a group of coaches and backroom staff, and we have been incredibly close over that period."

Gatland has made nine changes to his side to play New Zealand.

Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell form a new half-back partnership, while Owen Watkin features alongside Jonathan Davies in midfield.

Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis come into the starting side in the front-row to join Ken Owens, while Adam Beard returns to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.

Owen Lane also comes in on the wing for his tournament debut after joining the squad last week to replace the injured Josh Navidi.

Tomas Francis, George North and Aaron Wainwright were unavailable through injury, as was Leigh Halfpenny due to concussion.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has also rung the changes. Just eight starters from New Zealand's 19-7 semi-final loss to England have been named.

He has created space for his departing veterans with captain Kieran Read, centres Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty, and wing Ben Smith in from the start.

Wales v New Zealand, live, tomorrow, RTÉ2/eir Sport 1/UTV, 9.0

NEW ZEALAND - B Barrett; B Smith, R Crotty, SB Williams, R Ioane; R Mo'unga, A Smith; J Moody, D Coles, N Laulala; B Retallick, S Barrett; S Frizzell, S Cane, K Read. Reps: L Coltman, A Moli, A Ta'avao, P Tuipulotu, M Todd, B Weber, A Lienert-Brown, J Barrett.

WALES - H Amos; O Lane, J Davies, O Watkin, J Adams; R Patchell, T Williams; N Smith, K Owens, D Lewis; A Beard, AW Jones; J Tipuric, J Davies, R Moriarty. Reps: E Dee, R Carre, W Jones, J Ball, A Shingler, G Davies, D Biggar, H Parkes.

REF - W Barnes (England).

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