Warren Gatland has ‘categorically’ ruled out coaching England in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.
The New Zealander will leave his post as head coach of Wales after 12 years following this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
He will then take charge of the Barbarians against the Welsh at the Principality Stadium on November 30, which he says will be his chance to say goodbye to the Wales team and their fans.
On Wednesday, Gatland was confirmed as British and Irish Lions head coach for the third time for the 2021 tour of South Africa, but there has been plenty of speculation about his long-term plans.
The 55-year-old has been linked as a possible replacement for England head coach Eddie Jones, who has just two years remaining on his contract with the RFU.
But Gatland was keen to point out to any worried Welsh supporters that he has no plans to take over at Twickenham.
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Andrew McKenna, he said: “I can categorically tell the Welsh fans I will not be coaching England… there’s been lots of speculation about that.”
There are nine months between the end of the World Cup in Japan and the official beginning of his preparations for the Lions tour – so what will he do in the meantime, and then beyond?
“I finish with Wales after the World Cup and wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do,” Gatland continued, “so the Lions approached me and said, ‘we want to make this appointment early to have you involved but also to make sure we’ve got you secured before you think about going to another position’.
“I’m talking to a couple of people about prospects after the Lions tour and perhaps doing something between the World Cup and August next year when I officially take over the role [as Lions head coach]. Those conversations are going on at the moment but there’s nothing confirmed.
“It’s a big few months building towards Japan and my whole focus after today is going back and solely thinking about that with Wales and doing as well as we possibly can. We’ve had a great year so far and we’re looking forward to having a great World Cup.
“I’ll be coaching the Barbarians against Wales on November 30, and the Welsh Rugby Union have targeted that, having been in Wales for 12 years, as kind of a farewell match.
“So I’m really looking forward to that, it’ll be a great send off and it’s a chance for me to thank the fans for the great support that I’ve had in my time with Wales.
“And I can categorically tell the Welsh fans I will not be coaching England.
“It’s a really exciting year, and then I can have a bit of a break to think about South Africa and the Lions and what a privilege and an honour it is to be involved with that iconic side, and about the possibility of trying to go three tours undefeated as a head coach in the Test series.
“That would be pretty special and something I would treasure for the rest of my life.”