(Reuters) – Warren Gatland has said he did not throw his hat into the ring to replace All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as he wanted to honour his commitments to the Waikato Chiefs and British and Irish Lions.
Gatland, who stepped down as Wales coach after guiding them to the World Cup semi-finals, was on New Zealand Rugby’s list of 26 homegrown candidates to succeed Hansen but has decided to stick with his plan to take over Chiefs next year.
As part of his four-year deal with the Super Rugby side, the New Zealander will also be able to take a year off to lead the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.
“It was nice to be contacted (but) I politely declined putting my name forward,” Gatland told New Zealand’s Radio Sport Breakfast podcast.
“I’m a little bit old school… I’d made the commitment to the Chiefs and I’d made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that … honour the commitment I made to those two sides.
“Maybe sometime in the future I may get that opportunity again.”
Gatland took over Wales in 2007 and guided them to four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams. He also led the British and Irish Lions to a test series victory over Australia in 2013 and a drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)