Gatland plays down All Blacks coaching speculation

Warren Gatland (Getty)
Warren Gatland (Getty)

Auckland - British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland downplayed suggestions on Thursday he was in line to take over the All Blacks but said "what will be, will be" after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

New Zealand-born Gatland has been regularly touted as a possible successor to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has said he will step down in two years after the World Cup in Japan.

The 53-year-old Gatland has built an impressive coaching record with Wales, and won a Test series with the 2013 Lions in Australia. The Lions are now 1-1 against the All Blacks, the world champions, ahead of Saturday's decider. 

His contract with Wales has been extended through to 2019, and Gatland said he had no plans after that. 

"I'm pretty happy with what I've achieved in my career. So 2019, I'll probably finish up after the World Cup and go to the beach and maybe retire, enjoy myself," he said. 

"I'm a great believer in what will be will be. It's the way I've always been. 

"I don't think about the future. I don't sit here and plan what I'm going to do in 2019 or what I'm going to do next year." 

Although current assistant All Blacks coach Ian Foster is considered the favourite to replace Hansen, Gatland's coaching prowess has been highlighted by New Zealand rugby heavyweights Graham Henry and Steve Tew. 

Henry, who coached the All Blacks to win the 2011 World Cup has tipped Gatland as "possibly" a future All Blacks coach, while New Zealand Rugby chief executive Tew rated Gatland "an outstanding coach". 

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday's series decider, "Warren's record to now already makes him a candidate," Tew said. 

Gatland said he stood by his philosophy that the future will take care of itself. 

"I don't sit here and plan or plot what's going to happen. If you're successful wherever you are... then opportunities come your way," he said. 

"Saturday will be great to win but then the focus goes on autumn and the Six Nations and preparing Wales for the World Cup in 2019."

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