Wales attack coach Rob Howley to leave role in 2019

Rob Howley will step aside from his coaching role with Wales after the 2019 World Cup.

Howley was appointed as Wales attack coach and one of Warren Gatland’s assistants in 2008.

But the former Wales captain has confirmed he will step down in two years’ time and says he remains keen to fulfil his long-term ambition of coaching in England or France.

“Over the last 12 months, particularly before the autumn series last year, I’d had conversations with close family and friends and decided about finishing in 2019,” said Howley, who twice served as Wales’ interim head coach on a season-long basis when Gatland had Lions commitments.

“I just think it is the right time. I just feel that come 2019, I would have been here for 11 years and it’s time to move on and be involved elsewhere in a rugby environment.

“I need to examine my own values and look at what I need to do. It is on a bucket list of mine that I want to coach in the (Aviva) Premiership or France. Whether that opportunity comes along, I don’t know.

“I really enjoyed the experience of being (Wales) interim head coach, and I think to go back and have that experience of being head coach day in, day out over a period of time, maybe longer than a year, would put me in a better place.

“I think I can add a little bit of value, and that’s what I want to do. If that’s over the (Severn) Bridge, if that’s in France, who knows? I have made tough decisions before. The family will come first, they always have.”

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Howley also revealed that Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien has apologised to him following critical remarks made in a podcast of his coaching during the British and Irish Lions’ New Zealand tour earlier this year.

“We spoke on the phone [last week],” Howley added. “Obviously, I was disappointed to hear his comments and felt there would have been a better forum to raise those comments on tour.

“He felt he enjoyed the tour, had a good time and a lot of the good stuff he said wasn’t reported.

“You move on. I have the greatest respect for Sean O’Brien, and I thought he was outstanding on the Lions tour.

“Sean has made his comments, and it is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, isn’t it? It will soon be forgotten. He has apologised.”