"Competitive. Wales. Lions." Those are the three words that immediately came to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's mind when he was asked to describe his rival Warren Gatland in the briefest way ahead of their World Cup match-up in Tokyo.
He could have added another: "Chiefs".
While this playoff for third and fourth place has long been talked about as a fixture no one wants to be in after the crashing disappointment of the All Blacks and Wales' semifinal defeats, what it has also done is remind the rugby world that Gatland is set to return to New Zealand in a matter of weeks in order to coach the Chiefs next year before, incredibly, taking the 2021 season off in order to lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa.
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It is an unprecedented arrangement as far as New Zealand Rugby goes and it shows just how desperate they and the Chiefs were to get Gatland, a former All Blacks hooker who has coached Wales and the Lions for the past 12 years, back into the fold on a four-year contract.
It's an indictment, too, on the Chiefs' inability to find a heavyweight replacement for Dave Rennie, who took a struggling franchise to back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 and left a massive hole on his departure two years ago. Colin Cooper is a proud and decent man but couldn't build on the platform left by Rennie, who, after a stint at Glasgow, is now in the frame as the next Wallabies coach and possibly the next All Blacks boss too.
Every aspect of Gatland's performance with the Chiefs (his new role was announced in June this year) will be scrutinised closely from the outside because it is a truly unique arrangement which raises a few questions that will continue to be asked for the next two years.
How, when he is ensconced in Hamilton, the city of his birth, will he be able to give the selection of the Lions squad his full attention? Gatland will be in a good position to monitor the form of the South Africans during the 2020 season before taking 12 months out from August next year to concentrate solely on the Lions, and will presumably rely on video analysis and other reports until then. For selectors, there's nothing quite like seeing players perform in the flesh, though.
But perhaps the bigger question is: what happens when Gatland returns to the Chiefs for the 2022 and 2023 seasons and they don't do as well as they did in 2021 when he wasn't there?
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The intangibles of team dynamics in the often cut-throat business of professional sport can be difficult to build and even harder to maintain. As we have seen at this World Cup, the most successful coaches – Eddie Jones, Rassie Erasmus, Hansen and Gatland (and you could probably add Jamie Joseph for his achievements with Japan) – are big and all-pervasive personalities.
Gatland's sudden absence from the Chiefs after one season will create a power vacuum that will have to be handled with great delicacy on his return.
The pitting of Hansen and Gatland together in their final tests in charge of the All Blacks and Wales, respectively, adds a nice touch of symmetry to what for Hansen has been a hugely successful career and Gatland a very successful one given where he has taken Wales (to No 1, remarkably, before this World Cup). Gatland also led the Lions to a series victory over the Wallabies in 2013 before the drawn series against the All Blacks four years later.
For Hansen, it will likely be the end of his coaching career at the highest level and the suffocating pressure of being the All Blacks head coach for the past eight years is nearly over. For Gatland, hoping to return home after leading Wales to their first win over New Zealand in 66 years, the pressure and scrutiny remains and it will be fascinating to see how he deals with it.