Rob Howley will be the interim manager of the Welsh rugby squad for matches against the Barbarians and Australia as Warren Gatland recovers from breaking both heels falling off a ladder.
Howley will take charge of coaching staff immediately, the Welsh Rugby Union said today on its website. Gatland was hurt earlier this month at his house in New Zealand and may need surgery to heal the injuries.
Gatland led Wales to a Grand Slam victory in this year’s Six Nations championship. Wales plays the Barbarians, an invitational team, on June 2 before traveling to Australia for three Tests against its national team. Howley will be in charge for the first two matches, and then Gatland will assist him for the final games against Australia.
“Warren can now concentrate on getting back to robust health before taking back full control of Wales to continue the great work he has already achieved,” WRU Chief Executive Officer Roger Lewis said in a statement.
Gatland suffered multiple fractures to his right heel, and a fracture in his left. Doctors have told him he’s unlikely to bear weight on the right leg by early June.
Howley is a former scrum-half who made 59 appearances for Wales, winning his first cap against the Barbarians in October 2001. His interim appointment allows him to develop as a coach at the highest level, Lewis said.