By Rob Carbon
Stephen Jones and Gethin Jenkins, who both played under Gatland for both Wales and the British & Irish Lions bae been ditched from the back-room staff as the triple Grand Slam coach looks to recruit a new backs and defence coach.
The sacking of Jones, who first joined the Welsh coaching team at the 2019 World Cup working under Gatland, will heighten speculation that Rob Howley could come back to once again link up with the New Zealander.
🏉❌Stephen Jones and Gethin Jenkins will be replaced as Wales attack and defence coaches under Warren Gatland
🏴✅Jonathan Humphreys and Neil Jenkins remain on Wales coaching staff, along with team manager Martyn Williams pic.twitter.com/jYLTpH18Pw
— Nick Webb (@nickwebb2017) December 29, 2022
Howley was sent home from the 2019 World Cup amid a storm over gambling charges and has recently been working on attachment to Canada. Former England defence coach and Harlequins director of rugby, Paul Gustard, has joined Scotland defence coach Steve Tandy among the favourites to take over from Jenkins.
Wales kick-off their Six Nations campaign against world ranked No 1 side Ireland in the Welsh capital on 4 February and Gatland has confirmed he will be keeping team manager Martyn Williams, forwards coach Jon Humphreys and kicking coach Neil Jenkins in post.
But former outside half Jones, capped 104 times by Wales, and ex-prop Jenkins, who won 129 caps, have become surplus to requirements and have had their contracts ended with 10 months left to run on them.
🏴 Official: Stephen Jones and Gethin Jenkins to leave their roles with Neil Jenkins and Jonathan Humphreys to remain
For more 👉 https://t.co/b7Jsd8ICUk pic.twitter.com/1UJwRJ4KXg
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) December 29, 2022
“The very nature of a change-over at the helm of a national team brings with it the possibility for change and evolution elsewhere in the back room staff,” said WRU CEO, Steve Phillips.
“I know both Stephen and Gethin understand this part of the process and they should be commended for the good grace with which they have accepted the decision.
“We have appointed a very experienced and senior head coach, one of the best coaches in the world game and Wales’ most successful ever coach, and it is important to now ensure that he is afforded the very best opportunity to succeed.
“That means giving our maximum support as Warren seeks to build the right team around him – with the right blend of skills and character to suit his own style – to achieve success for Wales in the short amount of time available and we look forward to making further positive appointments in the New Year.”