CARDIFF (Reuters) – Outgoing Wales coach Warren Gatland is keeping his options wide open as he seeks new challenges after his swan song with the side at the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.
The 55-year-old has announced he will not extend his 12-year stay with Wales after the global showpiece tournament that concludes in early November and despite talks with various parties, he has no definite plans for his next move.
“I’ve had a couple of discussions with some people at the moment but there is definitely nothing concrete. Maybe at the end of the World Cup I’ll be unemployed,” the New Zealander told reporters.
“I was looking to take a few months off and then start looking in the middle of 2020, potentially do some Super Rugby in New Zealand if there was an opportunity.
“But I am also aware that there are not a lot of jobs in New Zealand. That might not be an option. So it’s whether it is back in club rugby in the (English) Premiership or France or Japan, or something like that.”
Gatland is seeking to lead Wales to a fourth Six Nations triumph during his tenure when they begin their 2019 campaign against France in Paris on Feb. 1.
He also admitted that there had been a levelling of the playing field between his first Six Nations campaign in 2007 and what will be his last.
“What’s changed about it is how competitive the Six Nations has become,” he added.
“There was a period when everyone said it was between England and France and that those two teams should play on the final weekend, and everyone else just made up the numbers.
“Italy are still playing a bit of catch-up but the other five teams, on their day, are capable of beating each other and of winning the Six Nations.
“It is great for the game and for northern hemisphere rugby, the fans and the sponsors (that) we don’t have one or two teams dominating.”
Gatland added that for him, Six Nations success had always been the biggest goal outside of World Cup tournaments ahead of success against southern hemisphere teams.
“This is the competition we really focus on. We’re in no doubt that during my tenure we’re disappointed we haven’t had more success against southern hemisphere teams, but that hasn’t always been our focus,” he said.
“Our focus has been on doing well in the Six Nations, where history and points, and pride are at stake. I think we’ll do well in this Six Nations.”
Wales have been drawn in Pool D at the World Cup, opening against Georgia in Toyota on Sept. 23, before concluding group play with matches against Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by John O’Brien)