Howley: Wales criticism has made me stronger

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Rob Howley believes the criticism he has received during a disappointing series for Wales has served to make him stronger.

Howley took over as caretaker for a second time after Wales coach Warren Gatland - who is set to leave the position permanently in 2019 - took a sabbatical to focus on the British and Irish Lions.

And although the recent series of fixtures brought wins over Argentina, Japan and South Africa, Howley has come under fire from fans and pundits alike for the uncertain nature of Wales' displays - especially following the 32-8 defeat to Australia.

"I personally don't try and listen because in terms of the players and coaches there's a huge focus on what you need to deliver in a Test match week," said Howley.

"You don't want to be sidetracked in any way and those criticisms do have an influence if you allow them to infiltrate your decision-making.

"We have to be very clear in our mindset and it certainly makes you a stronger person. I have certainly become quite strong over the last two or three years.

"I am not only told about the comments by my media officer, but by my daughters too. It hurts the family more than it does you. It makes you stronger."

Howley will join up with Gatland for the Lions' tour of New Zealand next year, and the former Wales player is looking forward to taking on the world's number one side.

"The Lions' tour of New Zealand is the pinnacle because we are going into the backyard of the number one country in world rugby," Howley added.

"You embrace that challenge and look forward to it. There is a series to be won and you are going to come under pressure and you have to deliver in adversity.

"The All Blacks are the standard bearers in the international game. They play a great style of rugby. That's the challenge, to deliver at the highest level."