I am delighted that Gareth Jenkins has finally become the coach of Wales. He has done virtually everything with Llanelli Scarlets and should have had the job the last time around when Mike Ruddock was asked to apply at the last minute. Gareth deserves it, and it would have been wrong for him to have gone through his career without being in charge of the Wales team.
Having said that, once again I fear the Welsh Rugby Union mismanaged the situation. To my mind the process they went through was unnecessary.
If they wanted Gareth from the outset they should have gone to him straight away and offered him the job. There was no need for him to apply and go through an interview. They simply should have told him "you're the man", end of story.
Because of public and political pressure he was always going to get the post. Some people are happy, some aren't but because of the politics in Wales you wonder whether they made the decision because it was right for rugby or right for the management board because it will help to keep them in their jobs.
Sometimes the Rugby Football Union at Twickenham mess things up but they never do it as badly as their counterparts in the Principality.
Wales were lucky this time because they had two very good applicants in Gareth and Phil Davies. I would have been happy with either but I was not happy with the process. Wales is so parochial it's like a village and people worry about what others are thinking rather than being strong enough to make the right decisions.
Phil, who is my brother-in-law, was obviously very disappointed not to get what he considered to be his dream job. However, his time will come again and he will have learnt a serious lesson from all of this.
A former Llanelli stalwart as a player, he went up to Leeds and learnt the trade in a very hard, professional environment. He worked with tough people like Gary Hetherington and Paul Caddick and learnt how to handle budgets and buy and sell players. He took them up from Division Three to the Premiership and that level has a greater intensity and professionalism than anything in Wales.
Gareth had a better understanding of all the politics and Phil would have had his eyes opened by what has happened. I am sure the experience will benefit Phil whatever he chooses to do now. He still has two years on his contract at Leeds, where he has been very happy and if he stays he will focus on getting them back into the Premiership next year although he may get an offer from Llanelli. Either way he will give it his all.
I trust and hope Gareth will have a free hand and that he will take Nigel Davies with him from Llanelli. Gareth will be strong with the WRU, the players and the coaching staff. If Mike Ruddock had had a similar approach and brought in his own team, things might have ended differently.
I am looking forward to Gareth's reign. Everyone who has gone to Llanelli from other clubs has become a better player and that is always the sign of a good coach. He has lots of qualities. He's excellent at man-management, a strong leader, a good communicator and knows how to work with the media.
Mind you, he will need these strengths because this is not going to be easy for him. With the Lions he had a midweek role, which is very different from the Test scenario and at Llanelli he was in a very, very comfortable environment.
I'm sure the fluidity Wales displayed in winning the Grand Slam - it already seems like a long time ago - will be maintained because Wales, who had a lot of injury problems last season, will be strengthened considerably by the return of top-class players and they will be a threat again.
Above all Gareth is clever and tactically very astute and can change the game plan to suit a particular match. He will be looking to improve individuals and develop players and I am sure that he will bring style and passion to the party.Reuse content