The Chiefs have hit back at Steve Hansen's criticism over their coaching set-up, which features a clause allowing new coach Warren Gatland to take a year off to coach the British and Irish Lions.

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Gatland will take the reins as the Chiefs head coach next season in the first year of a contract that will keep him with the club until the end of 2023.

However, he will take time away from the team in 2021 to coach the Lions, before returning to the helm.

It was a move that drew a raised eyebrow from Hansen when asked to comment on Gatland following the All Blacks' bronze medal win over Wales at the Rugby World Cup.


"Having him back in New Zealand for a year - I'm not sure how that's going to work, to be honest, because he's going to go and do the Lions after that so there's not going to be a lot of continuity for the Chiefs and him. But I'm sure he'll work his way through that."

After announcing the Chiefs' coaching team this morning, CEO Michael Collins said he didn't share Hansen's concerns.

"I'm really comfortable with where we're at. We've got some great assistant coaches, we've got some good continuity going forward," Collins said.

"People will have their own opinions on that, as Steve Hansen has, but I've got a good crew set-up and I'm not as concerned."

Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty Images
Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty Images

That crew consists of Tabai Matson (defence), Neil Barnes (forwards), Nick White (scrum), Roger Randle (attack), Andrew Strawbridge (resource), and one-time All Blacks No 10 David Hill will join the fray as an assistant coach.

Collins remained coy on the team's plans around who would step into Gatland's role when he was away on Lions duty, and whether that would be one of the current team or an outside hire. He said they were allowing their new coaching staff to settle in before making such decisions.

"We go through that appointment process in conjunction with New Zealand Rugby so we know what the process looks like and roughly when it's going to happen. So we'll be going through that in the early stages of 2020."