Warren Gatland has joked he does not know how to get to the away coach’s box at the Principality Stadium, as he prepares to bid farewell to Wales.
Gatland brought his 12-year tenure as Wales coach to an end with a defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off, after a 19-16 loss to eventual champions South Africa in the semi-finals.
Fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac has now taken over, with his first game in charge of the Six Nations champions coming against a Barbarians side coached by Gatland on Saturday in Cardiff.
Acknowledging it will be a bizarre way to say goodbye, Gatland nevertheless said he is relishing going up against his former side, revealing he asked the Barbarians to be their coach for this particular match.
“I have no idea where the away box is. Someone will have to show me so that I do not get lost,” Gatland told a news conference after announcing his team for Saturday’s match.
“I did not think it was right for it to be my last match with Wales. I was finished after the World Cup and it was a great chance for the new coaching team to come in and get some time with the players to help them build for the Six Nations.
“I thought that was really important and so rather than the Barbarians asking me I had to ask them if I could please coach them against Wales so that I was involved.
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“I have enjoyed this week, working with players and coaches for the first time, and it is an opportunity for me to say thank you to the Welsh fans and public for 12 brilliant, amazing years.
“The place has grown on me and I do not think I can lose either way on Saturday, but we are here to play some rugby and give a good performance.”
Gatland also added he has not had any contact with his successor, insisting it would be out of place for him to offer any guidance.
“I have not been in contact with Wayne. This is his team now and I have stepped back because it is important that he takes the reins,” Gatland said.
“He was at the World Cup for a couple of weeks and had a look. It was funny on Tuesday because I went back to my apartment and drove past when they were training.
“It felt a bit weird so I made sure I did not look out of the car window and my apartment overlooks the ground. I did not watch them train and felt a bit awkward. It was too dark, anyway.
“It is an unusual situation on Saturday but one to look forward to. I am sure both sides will want to play.”
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