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Wales closing on eventual successor to Gatland

Gareth Davies says Wales aren't far away from finding Gatland's replacement. Credit: PA

Wales hope to announce Warren Gatland's successor as national head coach by next summer.

New Zealander Gatland, who has been in charge of Wales since late 2007, will leave his post after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It is understood that a list of eight possible contenders has already been whittled down to three candidates.

Speaking to reporters after the Welsh Rugby Union annual general meeting on Sunday, WRU chairman and former Wales fly-half Gareth Davies said: "We have got a target of announcing the new Wales head coach by the summer of 2018.

"We have been very busy boys over the last six months talking to various people, and we are making progress on that.

"We have caught up with various people when we've had the chance to do so."

Gatland's reign has harvested three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and an appearance in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, when Wales were knocked out by France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off.

Current Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who has twice stepped up to the lead coach role for season-long stints when Gatland has been on British and Irish Lions duty, could be in the frame as a successor, while Wasps rugby director Dai Young also has his admirers.

"Warren hasn't been involved in the interview process so far," Davies added.

"But we will want to use him in the business moving forward in terms of who gets the job."

Gatland is set to announce his squad for the autumn Tests later this month, with Wales facing games against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa between November 11 and December 2.

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.

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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."

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