Wales legend understands calls to drop Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland, head coach of Wales. Photo / Getty
Warren Gatland, head coach of Wales. Photo / Getty

Former Lions and Wales legend Phil Bennett has said he understands the calls for Warren Gatland to stand down as head coach after Wales' 3-0 series defeat over the All Blacks last month.

New Zealand-born Gatland has been steering the Wales ship since 2007, with his contract due to end in 2019.

Bennett, who played 29 times for Wales between 1969 and 1978, believes it's time for Wales to bring in new blood into their coaching setup to assist Gatland as he continues to evolve the Welsh brand of rugby.

However, Bennett said Wales shouldn't get rid of Gatland, for now, for one major reason; there's nobody else better for the job.

"There are those fans who feel Warren Gatland has taken Wales as far as he can and that he should step down from the job he has done since 2008," Bennett wrote in the Sunday Mirror.

"I have to say I can see some of the merit in their argument. Eight years is a long time to be in charge of the same international team and Gatland has a contract as head coach that runs for another three years until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"It may be a cliche to say that players tire of the same voice, but they certainly find it hard to respond to new ideas when they are coming from an old source."

"Gatland is trying to evolve Wales' playing style. He wants to play the kind of vibrant, high-tempo, all-encompassing game that New Zealand used to win the series 3-0.

"I would have liked to have heard more about this from Gatland himself during the Six Nations and before the tour.

"There were a few pointers from Rob Howley, his assistant, but we had to wait to hear about these grand plans until after the series was lost, and even then they were spelt out by Martyn Phillips.

"Like a few others, I was left wondering why the public was hearing this from the new Welsh Rugby Union chief executive - and administrator - rather than a coach.

"I don't think Gatland should go because I look around and I don't see anyone I feel confident would come in right now and do a better job."

Bennett admitted he was concerned about the future of Welsh rugby after they failed to close the gap between them and the All Blacks, losing all three tests last month.

"There is something badly lacking in this Wales set-up," he added.

"It was apparent in the tired and jaded performances in that one-sided final test defeat. It was written in the faces of players and coaches after the final whistle."

- NZ Herald

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