Tuesday 21

Rugby Union

Warburton surprised at Gatland England link

3rd March 2019, 12:52 by Craig Smithson

Sam Warburton claims Warren Gatland is an "honorary Welshman" so he would be surprised if he replaced Eddie Jones as England coach.

The 55-year-old New Zealander has guided Wales to three Six Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, and the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup during his 11 years in charge, but he is due to step down after the World Cup in Japan in the autumn.

There has been plenty of speculation about where Gatland will head off to after Wales with a return to his homeland mooted.

It's likely the British and Irish Lions will be keen on acquiring his services for a third time ahead of the 2021 tour of South Africa, while there are also rumours of him taking on the England post.

And, when quizzed about Gatland's options, Warburton said he would be shocked if he took the Red Rose job after Jones, but backed him to stay on with the Lions.

The 30-year-old former international, who was Wales' last Grand Slam skipper in 2012, said: "I don't think he would coach England.

"Not that he wouldn't want to and he wouldn't enjoy the challenge, but I just couldn't see it happening.

"He is like an honorary Welshman now! If it did happen it would really surprise me, to be honest. I think the Lions would be desperate to get him back on board.

"They have got a new chief executive there now, and he will know probably more than anybody that you have got to keep the spine of your coaching team the same.

"They will want some continuity. They will have some continuity in the playing group, but you must have continuity from a management point of view, and who better than Warren?

"Whether he will do it or not is yet to be seen, but I think the Lions would be desperate to have him."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.

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