Howley to deputise for Gatland as Wales head coach

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Rob Howley has been confirmed as Wales interim head coach following Warren Gatland's appointment to the British and Irish Lions.

Gatland will lead the Lions for a second time in New Zealand, having masterminded a series victory over Australia in 2013.

The Kiwi will once again stand down from his role as Wales boss for a period to focus solely on his Lions responsibilities, with Howley handed immediate control of the side.

"I'm delighted, proud and extremely excited to be named Wales head coach for this period," said former international scrum-half Howley.

"I would like to congratulate Warren on his thoroughly deserved selection and the honour of being named head coach for a second successive Lions tour.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being head coach in 2012 and 2013 and I'm excited to have the challenge once again and I would like to thank the WRU [Welsh Rugby Union] for this opportunity."

Gatland, who also served as an assistant on the 2009 tour to South Africa, added: "I really enjoyed the experiences of the 2009 and 2013 Lions tours and believe once again I will benefit as a coach from the experience in 2017.

"I am very grateful to the WRU for their support and agreeing the secondment to the role.

"Rob's appointment is great news for the squad. We have an experienced management team in place and Rob's International experience as a coach and his desire to continue developing is a great mix to drive the squad forward."

Howley joined Wales as an assistant coach in 2008 and led them to victory in the Six Nations during Gatland's last absence three years ago.