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Warren Gatland has a new job as man who stood in for him during Lions tour keeps head coach role he vacated

Former Wales and Lions boss Warren Gatland has been given a new role at the Chiefs after returning to New Zealand.

Gatland, who left Wales after the 2019 World Cup to become head coach at the Super Rugby franchise, was afforded a sabbatical last year to lead his third consecutive Lions tour.

Before his time away with the tourists, Gatland did take charge of the Chiefs for the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa and oversaw a record eight straight defeats.

READ MORE: Evidence suggests Michael Collins may well be the story of Wales’ autumn squad

His assistant Clayton McMillan took charge while Gatland was away with the Lions and guided them to a significant upturn in results which saw them reach the Super Rugby final.

The situation, understandably, caused a stir in New Zealand with The Herald running a piece stating the ‘situation couldn’t have played out much worse for Chiefs’.

But the franchise, based in Gatland’s native Waikato, have had a rethink.

McMillan will become the permanent head coach, with Gatland moving to a Director of Rugby role.

“I’m incredibly excited about coming back with the Chiefs and working really closely alongside Clayton,” said Gatland.

“The great job he and the coaches did last season was fantastic see. I’m really excited about this opportunity.

“I want to stress that it’s about what’s best for the Chiefs.”

In his new role, Gatland will have a ‘focus on supporting the coaching staff and shaping and growing the rugby programme and high-performance programme’.

Though it is likely to mean less hands-on coaching, which will now be handled by McMillan.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) General Manager Professional Rugby and High Performance Chris Lendrum said: “The Chiefs new coaching structure will get the best out of two quality coaches and that’s a great result for the club, its players and its fans.

“Clayton has impressed through his work with the Chiefs last year and with the Māori All Blacks and Warren’s international experience will be a valuable asset in helping him continue his development.

“We are fortunate to have such a high quality of coaches across our teams as we head into the new Super Rugby Pacific competition in 2022.”

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