Tom Shanklin Tells Warren Gatland To Hire A New Backs Coach

Tom Shanklin has urged Warren Gatland to re-fresh his Wales back-up team by bringing in a new attack coach.

As Wales prepare to take on South Africa in their final Test of the autumn series, former Wales centre Shanklin believes Wales must add a new voice to the mix as they look ahead to the World Cup in two years’ time.

In an interview with South African website, Sport24, Shanklin says Gatland should stay in charge, but bring in new blood to enhance Wales’ attacking game.

“As far as Gatland goes, I believe he is the best man for the job at the moment,” says double Grand Slam winner Shanklin, who won 70 caps.

“There are not many better CVs than Gatland’s and he has earned the right to stay in Wales until he decides to seek out a fresh challenge.

“Gatland receives plenty of criticism over the way Wales play and in terms of their results. However, he has been by far the most successful Welsh coach we have ever had.

“Potentially, I would like to see Gatland add to his coaching set-up.

“I’d like more attack-minded coaches to come into the national team fold, but at the moment we’ve got Rob Howley who serves as attack coach.

“I’m not saying get rid of Howley whatsoever, he’s vitally important to the way Wales play and the pattern they employ, but we haven’t really added to the coaching team since Gatland was appointed in 2007.

“A change of voice would be good, but the problem is who do you get in? There are many attack-minded coaches out there, but they are tied to their current clubs.

“And I don’t think anyone is going to want to join the coaching set-up because, if Gatland calls it a day, that will spell the end of his backroom staff as well.”

Tom Shanklin. Pic; Getty Images.

Injuries and players not released by their clubs for a match outside of the official Test window have hit Wales hard and there are only four survivors from the team that beat the Springboks last year.

Shanklin says those problems have undermined chances of another home win and that without a victory, the autumn series cannot be considered a success.

“Make no mistake, the comings and goings in the Welsh camp this week would have created a degree of disruption because part of the strength of the squad revolves around keeping it tight and together as a unit.

“When you see players leave and new ones come in, the team set-up can’t and won’t have the same vibe and ethos. However, the Welsh team that takes to the field on Saturday will be highly motivated because they know that if they don’t beat South Africa it won’t be deemed as a successful end-of-year campaign.

“This is a huge game for Wales as they always want a southern hemisphere scalp on their mantle piece. Wales won against South Africa last year, and the Welsh public will be pretty excited about trying to get another win – and southern scalp – because that is what you are judged on.

“At the end of the campaign, people will ask: Did we defeat a southern hemisphere outfit?”

Shanklin believes Wales can make it a hat-trick of home wins against a South African side who have slumped to sixth in the world ranking – one place above their hosts – but only if they muscle up to a team that still relies on strength and power.

“South Africa possess a big pack of forwards and will look to bully Wales at the breakdown, in the collisions and during set-play. Wales boast a mobile pack, but it’s certainly not the biggest.

“The question is whether they can stop the hulking South African ball-carriers from gaining traction. If the home side can keep the Bok bruisers at bay, then they have a good chance because we boast gifted players in the Welsh backline.”


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