Wales head coach Warren Gatland has added Alex King and Mike Forshaw to his backroom staff ahead of the Six Nations.

Former England fly-half King has been appointed as attack coach, with Forshaw named defence coach by Gatland.

King was Wales' attack coach during the 2017 Six Nations while Gatland was on secondment with the British and Irish Lions. He was most recently working with Premiership side Gloucester.

Forshaw arrives from Sale Sharks, with the duo joining forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys and skills coach Neil Jenkins on Gatland's team.

They have replaced Stephen Jones and Gethin Jenkins at the start of Gatland's second tenure after the New Zealander replaced sacked compatriot Wayne Pivac last month.

Wales face Ireland in the opening game of the Six Nations at the Principality Stadium on February 4.

"I'm delighted that Alex and Mike are joining the Wales coaching team," said Gatland.

"They both have plenty of experience as players and coaches, which will be hugely important to the development of the squad through the Six Nations and beyond. I'd like to thank Sale Sharks for their cooperation in the process and allowing Mike to take up this position with Wales.

"We have less than a month to our first Six Nations match against the number one side in the world which, as I've said before, is a great challenge to have first up and one that we are very excited about as a coaching group.

"Having our first match this championship at home will be very special and I'm really looking forward to getting back out at Principality Stadium in front of the best fans in rugby."

Tom Curry has sustained a hamstring tear that will keep him out of England's first two Six Nations matches, but he is set to be in contention for the clash with Wales at the end of February.

Curry, who captained England for the first time in last year's championship, injured his right leg in a tackle in the first half of Sale Sharks' win against Harlequins on Sunday.

With Steve Borthwick taking charge of England for the first time in their February 4 opener against Scotland, the injury left Curry little time to recover.

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson confirmed Curry would miss that match and the subsequent meeting with Italy, but the setback could have been worse.

"It's not as bad as we thought," Sanderson said. "A [grade] 3c [tear] would have been six to eight weeks, and he would have been looking to play at the back end of the Six Nations.

"With it being a 2c and Tom being very diligent on his rehab, it means he could be back for Wales."

England visit Wales for their first away match of the campaign on February 25.

Gareth Bale's retirement announcement sparking a new wave of golf-related jokes and memes was par for the course – he might not have expected Pep Guardiola to chip in, though.

The Wales great confirmed on Monday his career in professional football has come to an end after representing his country at the 2022 World Cup.

Despite his brilliance as footballer over the years, it is certainly not the only sport Bale is closely associated with.

During his time in Madrid, Bale's penchant for taking to the golf course while injured began to tee Los Blancos fans off, and former player Predrag Mijatovic once suggested the Welshman's priorities were "Wales, then golf, and after that, Real Madrid".

Wales fans subsequently turned it into a chant and slogan, with Bale even among the players holding a flag that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" as the team celebrated reaching Euro 2020.

Ever since, it has been a running joke largely used to poke fun at Madrid, and Guardiola – while paying tribute to the 33-year-old – made the most of a gimme opportunity with a quip of his own.

When first asked if he had ever tried to sign Bale, Guardiola said with a grin: "Too expensive.

"What a player. Fantastic career, won a lot of things, and I think he represented Wales and won more than 100 caps.

"And now he will become a fantastic golf player."

While Guardiola may not have ever invited Bale to join him at Manchester City, Bayern Munich or Barcelona despite occasional links, it seems he did approach him about hitting the course.

Bale's unavailability then meant they were unable to iron out the details, but he appears likely to get another offer soon.

Guardiola added: "He was busy, but now maybe he has time, I will invite him again."

Gareth Bale's decision to retire from professional football comes at the "right time", according to Wales manager Rob Page.

Bale announced on Monday he had decided to call time on a glorious career, having finally been able to represent his country at the World Cup.

Once the most expensive player of all time when he made the move to Real Madrid from Tottenham, Bale won everything possible during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, including five Champions League titles – only Paco Gento (six) has more (Champions League/European Cup).

While some might have been surprised by Bale's decision given he is still only 33, his decline over the past few years – partly due to injuries – has been significant, as evidenced by his MLS struggles with Los Angeles FC and a lack of impact for Wales at Qatar 2022.

Page was not among those caught off guard by the news.

"Gareth messaged to say he needed a conversation," Page told BBC Radio Wales.

"I knew it was something significant, but when he announced it to me, it didn't come as a complete surprise.

"I told him I think it's the right time to bow out. You've just scored in a World Cup and got everything on your CV, what you've done for this country is unbelievable."

Wales' next fixtures are at the end of March when they face Croatia and Latvia to begin their Euro 2024 qualification campaign.

Page had planned to include Bale in his squad, though he recognised the World Cup did highlight certain inadequacies.

"He would have had a part to play," Page continued. "The roles might have changed slightly. Would he be able to play 90 minutes back to back?

"Lessons have been learned from Qatar, the athleticism every team had out there. It's too big an ask probably for him, he might have been an impact player coming off the bench.

"There's a mixture of emotions for me. I'm excited now because it's an opportunity to get some of the young ones through – players like Brennan Johnson to take the opportunity and step up to the plate – and get the next Gareth Bale.

"But there's also a hint of sadness because it's the last time we'll see Gareth Bale putting a pair of boots on for Wales."

But that is not to say Bale will be gone for good.

It remains to be seen what he goes on to do now he is not playing, but Page is eager to get Bale involved in the Wales setup again.

"I would love him still to be involved in some capacity, what that role is don't know yet," he said.

"It's a big adjustment for him, going into a normalish life, but we'll have another conversation with him in a few weeks.

"We'll make a plan moving forward because he's got so much to offer in a changing room and hotel environment.

"His presence is something I would be really keen on, to keep him involved, but I'll leave it up to Gareth and what suits him and his family.

"You've seen Belgium do it with Thierry Henry. Ex-players stepping up, whether it's a coaching role, an ambassadorial role, or being part of a committee making decisions.

"I'm sure the FAW [Football Association of Wales] would also be keen to keep Gareth involved in some capacity."

Real Madrid have paid tribute to former superstar Gareth Bale after the Wales international called an end to his playing career on Monday.

Bale joined Madrid from Tottenham in 2013 and spent nine years in Spain, albeit he headed back to Spurs on loan in 2020-21.

The 33-year-old won three LaLiga titles, a Copa dey Rey, five Champions League titles and three Club World Cups in his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He was not always universally popular with the fans despite scoring 106 goals in 258 games for the club, particularly after being pictured with a flag while on international duty that read: "Wales, golf, Madrid. In that order."

However, having left the Spanish capital for Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer in June, Los Blancos posted a statement on their website on Monday to celebrate their former forward.

"Following Gareth Bale's announcement that he will retire from professional football, Real Madrid C. F. would like to express its gratitude, admiration and affection for a true legend of our club and the world game," it read.

"Gareth Bale was part of our team during one of the most successful periods in our history. He will long be remembered for his involvement in some of the most remarkable moments of the past decade, including his unforgettable run in the 2014 Copa del Rey final in Valencia [v Barcelona], his crucial goal in the 2014 Champions League final in Lisbon [v Atletico Madrid], and his brace in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv [v Liverpool], most notably the bicycle kick which will live forever in the minds of football lovers around the globe.

"His name will be forever bound to our club's history and its legend.

"Good luck, Gareth, and all the best to you and your family."

Gareth Bale has brought an end to an illustrious playing career after announcing his retirement at the age of 33.

The forward hangs up his boots with a record of 226 goals in 664 games from spells with Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Los Angeles FC and on the international stage with Wales.

Initially a left-back, Bale was utilised further forward by Harry Redknapp at Spurs which sparked the start of an incredible transformation of the player – who would go on to make a significant impression at both club and international level.

Here, we've taken a look back at some of the finest moments from Bale's career.

San Siro statement

On October 20, 2010, Bale gave Tottenham fans memories to last a lifetime with a stunning hat-trick in a Champions League group stage fixture against Inter at San Siro in a year that marked Spurs' first-ever involvement in the competition.

Four goals down at half-time and down to 10 men, Bale enjoyed a meteoric display in the second period that, despite Spurs losing 4-3, still stands as one of the greatest individual performances in the competition's history.

A hat-trick saw the then 21-year-old display his raw pace and strength, tormenting opposing players Maicon and Javier Zanetti, propelling him into stardom and setting the path for a remarkable career.

World record transfer & Copa del Rey Clasico

A six-year spell in north London came to a close in 2013, when Real Madrid splashed a then world record fee of €100.8 million (£85.1m), a figure that surpassed the previous record set by Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Santiago Bernabeu from Manchester United.

Scoring on his debut against Villarreal, the first half of Bale's inaugural season in Spain was plagued by injuries and came alongside some media criticism – something that he would have to endure throughout the majority of his spell with Los Blancos.

A starring moment came in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, however, outsprinting Marc Barta and even exiting the field on his way to goal before tucking home his first El Clasico strike.

Champions League glories

Just over a month after scoring in the Copa del Rey final, Bale was at it again in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid – putting his team ahead in the 110th minute of an eventual 4-1 victory to seal Madrid's 10th European Cup, the fabled La Decima.

In 2015-16, Bale won the Champions League for a second time, Atletico on the receiving end yet again, retaining the trophy the following season against Juventus in his home city of Cardiff, and winning a third in a row in 2017-18, where Bale added to his incredible highlight reel.

Against Liverpool in Kyiv, Bale scored an overhead kick from the edge of the 18-yard box to give Madrid a 2-1 advantage, then doubling his tally for the game with a speculative 30-yard effort that goalkeeper Loris Karius fumbled into the net.

Euro semi-finalists

While criticism at club level with Madrid was rife, Bale continued to be the leading man on the international stage for Wales and excelled for his nation at Euro 2016, the first time they had featured at the tournament.

Bale scored in all three of Wales' group-stage matches against Slovakia, England and Russia as Chris Coleman's side topped the group, with victories against Northern Ireland and Belgium to follow in the knockout stage.

An incredible tournament came to a close in the semi-finals with a 2-0 defeat to eventual champions Portugal but Wales returned five years later at the rearranged Euro 2020, where they reached the last 16.

MLS Cup victory

Bale's Madrid career ended in June 2022, fresh from picking up a fifth Champions League victory, as he completed a move to Major League Soccer to join Los Angeles FC.

LAFC won the Supporter's Shield in the regular season, though Bale was mostly unused, but he made his impact in the MLS Cup as his side won the title for the first time, having joined the league in 2017.

Bale came off the bench to score in the 128th minute against Philadelphia Union, sending the contest to a penalty shoot-out that LAFC subsequently won.

World Cup

After a 64-year absence, Wales returned to the World Cup stage after qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar – which would prove to be Bale's last involvement as a player for either club or country.

An 82nd-minute penalty against the United States saw Bale score on his tournament debut as Wales begun the group stage with a point, but two stoppage-time goals in the second game gave Iran a shock victory.

Wales' campaign came to an early end with a 3-0 defeat to England in the final group match, marking a disappointing end to Bale's international career.  

Gareth Bale announced his retirement on Monday, bringing an end to a trophy-laden and eventful career spanning 17 seasons.

Southampton product Bale made a name for himself at Tottenham, but it was in nine years at Real Madrid he truly rose to stardom – although he had a turbulent time in the Spanish capital.

Despite playing starring roles in two Champions League finals and winning 16 trophies, Bale's time in Madrid turned sour long before he departed last June.

The versatile attacker famously paraded with a banner that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" in 2019 and that understandably did not go down well with Los Blancos fans.

Playing time continued to be limited at Los Angeles FC, but Bale scored an extra-time leveller in the MLS Cup final against Philadelphia Union, which his side won on penalties.

Yet for all his success at club level, it was arguably with Wales that Bale enjoyed his proudest moments, not least reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Bale also played a huge part in ending Wales' 64-year wait to qualify for the World Cup last year, with their group defeat to England proving to be his final game as a professional.

As the curtain comes down on Bale's playing days at the age of just 33, Stats Perform breaks down the numbers from a remarkable career.

Bale played 664 matches for club and country and scored 226 goals, the majority of those unsurprisingly coming for Madrid (106).

He also netted 41 times in 111 games for Wales, becoming his country's record goalscorer and cap holder in the process.

The Cardiff-born forward also netted five goals for Southampton and three for LAFC at either end of his career, while bagging 71 in 237 matches for Tottenham.

It was his superb form for Spurs, particularly in the 2012-13 season, that saw Bale make a then-record €100.8million (£85.1m) switch to Madrid.

That would prove to be Bale's best season in terms of goals as he netted 21, nine of those from outside the box in the Premier League – a single-season record that still stands.

Add his four assists into the mix and only Robin van Persie (35) and Luis Suarez (28) played a direct part in more goals than Bale's 25 during that campaign.

As impressive as Bale was for Spurs, though, he did not have any silverware to show for it. That would all soon change at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He is the only player to score a match-winning goal in two Champions League finals, doing so in 2013-14 against Atletico Madrid and in 2017-18 to break Liverpool's hearts.

Bale scored twice against Liverpool, aided by a horror shown from Loris Karius, making him the first substitute to score more than once in a single Champions League final.

Those three combined final goals are second only to Cristiano Ronaldo (four), who it is fair to say will be far better remembered by Madrid supporters than Bale.

While his part in some of Madrid's triumphs in more recent seasons was limited, Bale does at least deserve his place in club folklore.

His 258 appearances for Los Blancos are more than the likes of Luis Figo (245) and Zinedine Zidane (227) made, and just short of the great Ferenc Puskas' tally of 262.

Furthermore, Bale is one of only 22 players in Madrid's esteemed history to have reach the 100-goal mark, his 106 strikes more than Brazil legend Ronaldo (104) managed.

Wales legend Gareth Bale has announced his retirement at the age of 33.

Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure."

The former Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC forward called time on a 17-year playing career, in which his honours included three LaLiga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions.

Bale’s final appearance came in 3-0 defeat to England as Wales were knocked out of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.

He posted on Instagram: "After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love. It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.

"From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have an immense pride and gratitude for. Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.

"To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey, feels like an impossibility. I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldn’t have ever dreamed of when I first started out at 9 years old.

"To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, back room staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.

"My parents and my sister, without your dedication in those early days, without such a strong foundation, I wouldn't be writing this statement right now, so thank you for putting me on this path and for your unwavering support.

"My wife and my children, your love and support has carried me through. Right beside me for all the highs and lows, keeping me grounded along the way. You inspire me to be better, and to make you proud.

"So, I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life. A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure…"

Bale began his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham, where he spent six seasons and won two PFA Players' Player of the Year awards.

His exploits with Spurs earned him a blockbuster move to Madrid in 2013 for a reported fee of £77million (€91m).

Despite suffering injury issues and often struggling to emerge from Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow, Bale enjoyed some huge highs at the Santiago Bernabeu, including a spectacular winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, putting Los Blancos ahead against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final and scoring twice against Liverpool to win the 2018 Champions League final.

Being pictured with a flag while on international duty that read ‘Wales, golf, Madrid. In that order' did not go down well with Madrid fans and Bale continued to suffer with injuries.

He left for a spell in Major League Soccer last June, winning the MLS Cup with LAFC on penalties after he equalised in the final against Philadelphia Union in the 128th minute.

Bale starred on the international stage, leading Wales to an improbable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 as captain, as well as playing a key role in their qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the first they had participated in since 1958.

He finished his international career with 41 goals in 111 caps.

Wales legend Gareth Bale has announced his retirement at the age of 33.

Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure."

The former Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC forward called time on a 17-year playing career, in which his honours included three LaLiga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions.

Bale’s final appearance came in 3-0 defeat to England as Wales were knocked out of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is "quite confident" he will be fit for the start of the Six Nations after undergoing surgery on his cheekbone.

The fly-half went under the knife this week to repair damage done during Leinster's United Rugby Championship clash with Connacht last Sunday.

Sexton's injury blow raised concerns over his participation in the Six Nations, but former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman spoke to the number 10 after his procedure and revealed he should be ready to face Wales at the Principality Stadium on February 4.

"Sexton is quite confident he is going to be back for the first round," said Jackman.

He added: "He didn't have to get wired - it was a simpler procedure than we all feared.

"He is due back in four weeks so should be back for the first game against Wales which will be a huge boost for Ireland - he is delighted."

Sexton will retire after the Rugby World Cup in France this year, so this will be his last Six Nations.

Wales lock Will Rowlands confirmed he will miss the Six Nations with a shoulder injury.

The Dragons second row is set to return in April after undergoing surgery on the injury sustained during Wales' Autumn Nations clash with Argentina last month.

Rowlands will be a big miss for his nation, who begin their campaign against Ireland on February 4 before concluding against France six weeks later.

A string of impressive performances in 2022 saw the 31-year-old named player of the year by the Welsh Rugby Writers Association (WRWA).

"The shoulder is OK, It is frustrating, but [the recovery] is just slow and steady," he told the Scrum V Live programme. "Hopefully, I will be involved back in rugby in April time."

Rowlands, who is reportedly set to join French side Racing 92 after leaving the Dragons at the end of this season, is also doubtful for the World Cup in September due to not fulfilling the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) selection criteria.

The policy states players playing their domestic club rugby outside Wales must have earned 60 or more caps to remain eligible for selection, thus rendering the 23-cap lock unavailable to Warren Gatland.

Pele is the greatest of all time for Peter Reid, though the former England midfielder knows there is not much to choose between the Brazil legend, Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi.

Argentina's World Cup success in Qatar has surely cemented Messi's place as the greatest player of his generation, though whether the 35-year-old will go down as the best of ever is open for debate.

Messi has now matched his late compatriot Maradona in dragging Argentina to World Cup glory, with the late, great former captain lifting the trophy at Mexico 1986.

Reid played for England against Argentina in the famous 'Hand of God' game in that tournament and was left in Maradona's wake for the mercurial number 10's second goal of the match, which has been immortalised as 'The Goal of the Century'.

Reid, though, quipped Pele – a winner of three World Cups – was his pick.

"Erm, Pele," Reid joked when asked by Stats Perform who was the best out of Messi and Maradona. "They're all icons of the game."

 

Reid is pleased to see Messi finally get his hands on the only trophy that had been missing from his collection.

"Yeah, I think he's been an absolutely outstanding footballer and it was the one major trophy that he hadn't won, and I think he's a credit to himself on the park and off the park," he said.

He added of the tournament: "I thought there was some great games, I thought the best team won it and I still don't know the penalty rule. I haven't got a clue what a penalty is these days, but I did enjoy it, I've got to say."

It was a similar story for Liverpool great Ian Rush, who enjoyed his experience in Qatar supporting Wales.

"I was out there and from a Welsh point of view it was a privilege to be there, 1958 was last time we qualified so no matter where the World Cup was going to be, I was going to be there because it's the first time I have gotten the chance to see Wales playing at the World Cup," Rush told Stats Perform.

"But I enjoyed it and I really enjoyed the World Cup out there. The people were very friendly. It's the icing on the cake for Messi to get his hands on the World Cup."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland says Ireland counterpart Andy Farrell is the only real contender to lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour to Australia in 2025.

Gatland was in charge of the Lions on consecutive tours in 2013, 2017 and 2021.

The 59-year-old's shock return as Wales boss last week means he may now be in the running for the next tour in two and a half years' time.

However, Gatland believes on current credentials, Farrell is perfectly suited for the role following his impressive work with Ireland.

"If you are picking a Lions coach at the moment, there is only one person that I think is in contention," he told reporters. "He is across the water and living in Dublin at the minute. 

"If you are successful, those opportunities come along. I hadn't even thought about [the Lions tour]. I am just thinking about the next 10 months.

"I am well aware of how important the Six Nations and World Cup are next year.

"I don't plan my pathway. I am a believer of if you are in the right place at the right time, then opportunities come along. What will be, will be."

Farrell oversaw a historic Test series triumph against New Zealand in July and then added the scalps of South Africa and Australia in November.

Ireland are top of the world rankings, whereas Wales are down in ninth on the back of a poor year that led to the dismissal of Wayne Pivac.

Gatland has been tasked with turning things around in his second spell at the helm, with a showdown against Ireland first up in Wales' 2023 Six Nations opener on February 4.

"Facing them first is probably good, as they are the best team in the world, and rightly so," Gatland said.

"Getting them first up at home is not the worst thing. It's a tournament of momentum. You win your first game and you've got a good chance of doing well.

"To get them first up, it's probably the one game you want at home – playing against the best team where there is probably a bit more pressure on them.

"I think we will be pretty excited about getting ready for the game."

Warren Gatland is "under no illusions" he has to deliver for Wales otherwise he risks damaging his legacy upon his return as head coach.

Wayne Pivac was relieved of his duties on Monday by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) after defeats against New Zealand, Georgia and Australia last month.

That opened the door for Gatland, a three-time Six Nations winner with Wales, to make a sensational return to the role Pivac replaced him in after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland, whose first stint with Wales lasted 12 years, will take charge in the Six Nations, the World Cup in France next year and potentially through to the 2027 tournament in Australia.

The 59-year-old reached the top of World Rugby's rankings with Wales in his final year and acknowledged he must achieve similar success on his return.

When asked if his second appointment could damage his reputation, Gatland said: "That's the exciting thing about it, isn't it?

"If you're a flop and fail... I'm under no illusions what the expectations are in the next 10 months.

"I've always loved the challenge, I've always loved going into environments where there are expectations and hopefully exceeding those expectations.

"That's part of professional sport, there are ups and downs. You live by your results and performances.

"I'm excited about it, but there are pressures and risks. I'm confident I can come in and hopefully make a difference and get a side together who are proud to put that jersey on, and when they go out there and represent Wales in front of home fans they're prepared to die for that jersey.

"Those are my expectations and I don't expect anything less from the players in terms of what it means to play for Wales – the history, the expectation.

"If we can achieve that in a short period of time, I think that will give us the best opportunity to be successful."

The New Zealander inherits a Wales side that have won just three of 12 games in 2022, though he is relishing the challenge in store after leaving Super Rugby side the Chiefs.

"I can hit the ground running. Obviously, there's a new group of players," he added.

"There's a process I've got to go through over the next few weeks and get a real feel for the place again, so it's like 2007-2008 and coming in completely cold.

"That's a massive advantage I've got in terms of knowing Wales and the set-up. I can come in and hopefully be seamless in stepping into the role."

As for his long-term future with Wales, Gatland remains focused on getting his side into shape for the World Cup, which starts on September 8.

"At the moment my immediate focus is between now and the World Cup, and afterwards it's myself and Steve Phillips [WRU chief executive] talking about possibilities going forward," he continued.

"During that 10 months we've got to be showing we've made progress and we've been successful, and then potentially other opportunities arise from that.

"That's how we are at the moment. There's no certainty, but I'm comfortable with that, so if the next 10 months is not successful then you are involved in professional sport and know what the consequences are.

"I'm comfortable and confident that I can come in and make a difference, and create an environment we can be successful in. If that happens then potentially other discussions may take place.

"But I'm not looking past the next 10 months, I'm not looking past France."

Warren Gatland has agreed to make a sensational return to the Wales head coach role after Wayne Pivac was relieved of his duties.

Pivac paid the price for defeats against New Zealand, Georgia and Australia last month.

New Zealander Pivac replaced his compatriot Gatland after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but has fallen short of expectations.

Gatland, who had such a successful first 12-year spell serving Wales, will leave his position with Super Rugby side the Chiefs to take charge in the Six Nations, the World Cup in France next year and potentially through to the 2027 tournament in Australia.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) CEO Steve Phillips said: "This is one of the toughest calls to make in sport, but the review process has reached its conclusion and we have acted quickly and efficiently in the very best interests of our national team.

"Ultimately we are in the results business and we have agreed with Wayne that the current trajectory for Wales is not where we want it to be and we thank him sincerely for his time, enthusiasm, diligence and effort, which is unquestioned, as head coach over the last three years."

Gatland masterminded Six Nations Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012, then won the Six Nations in 2019.

"I'm very much looking forward to returning to coach Wales," said Gatland.

"This is an opportunity to achieve something with a talented group of players in a country so passionate about rugby. A country which made my family and I so welcome, when we first arrived 15 years ago, and all the time we were there.

"Our immediate priority is obviously the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and next year's Rugby World Cup.

"There is little time for sentiment, professional sport is all about preparation, values and results. There will be new challenges as there always is with a change in head coach, but for me the environment, the players and their families will always come first.

"We must prepare to the best of our ability in the time available. We will value and respect each other, we will work hard and, if we get this right together, performances and results will follow."

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