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Howley in charge of Wales with Gatland on Lions duty

Rob Howley will be in charge of Wales as Warren Gatland heads off on Lions duty. Credit: PA

Rob Howley has been named as Wales head coach while Warren Gatland concentrates on his New Zealand tour role with the British and Irish Lions for the next 10 months.

Howley, a long-term Wales assistant coach under Gatland, will take up the role and have what the Welsh Rugby Union announced as "full responsibility" for the senior team with immediate effect. The season features four autumn Tests and a Six Nations campaign.

It is a reprise of the 2012-13 season when Gatland headed up the Lions tour of Australia. Under Howley, Wales lost all of their autumn games that campaign, but recovered impressively to win the Six Nations title.

Lions boss Gatland has been seconded from his WRU role until after the New Zealand tour ends next July.


Warren Gatland demands 40 point victory over Italy

Warren Gatland believes Wales must beat Italy by 40 points to give themselves a realistic chance of clinching this year's Six Nations title.

Gatland knows his team are outsiders for this year's title. Credit: PA

The Welsh are level on points with Ireland and England ahead of today's final matches, but Gatland's side must make up a 25 point difference to the English and four point difference to Ireland if both of their rivals secure victories.

"To give ourselves a realistic chance of winning [the Six Nations]," Gatland told the BBC. "We need to win by 40 and anything more than that will be a bonus."

He made two enforced changes from the team that ended Ireland's Grand Slam hopes in Cardiff last Saturday, with props Gethin Jenkins (hamstring) and Samson Lee (Achilles) both out injured and replaced by Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis, respectively.

Italy, meanwhile, went into battle without their captain and number eight Sergio Parisse, who was absent due to a foot injury. Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco featured in a reshuffled back-row, with Leicester hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini taking over as skipper.


Gatland hints at Wales exit after Lewis departure

Wales head coach Warren Gatland admits the departure of Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis could impact on his own long-term future.

Lewis unveils Gatland as Wales coach in 2007. Credit: PA

Gatland, who was signed up by Lewis eight years ago, is under contract with Wales until 2019.

During that time, Wales have won three RBS 6 Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, and reached a World Cup semi-final.

Asked whether Lewis' decision had any bearing on Gatland's future, the New Zealander added: "Yeah, it probably does."

Asked if he would elaborate on that final point, Gatland said: "No."

Gatland: Dropping O'Driscoll from Lions was 'not easy'

The British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said the decision to drop Brian O'Driscoll was "not easy" but claimed the Irishman's leadership would still be vital for the touring side in the run-up to the Sydney showdown.

Gatland said "the head overruled the heart" when it came to selecting the squad that will face Australia in the decisive third test match.

When asked how O'Driscoll took the news, the Lions coach said: "I told him this morning. Obviously he was pretty disappointed as anyone is disappointed but he appreciated the fact that he was spoken to before the announcement.

"It's the first time any coach has ever had that decision with him in 15 years of rugby so it's not easy for that to be the first time but he's still going to be very important for us for the next 72 hours".