Gatland named Chiefs coach! Good news for McKenzie, bad news for South Africa?

Gatland named Chiefs coach! Good news for McKenzie, bad news for South Africa?

New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs, snapped up the signature of arguably the most in-demand head coach with Warren Gatland signing a four-year deal with the side.


Gatland will have a year off in 2021 to lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa before re-joining the side for the 2022 season and replaces former Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper in the role.

The former Waikato hooker returns to the side he would have likely represented had Super Rugby been around during his playing career and will look to take the Chiefs to new heights.

We've picked out a few winners and losers from Gatland's appointment as the Chiefs head coach.

Winners: The Chiefs

An obvious one. The Chiefs are massive winners and have replaced Colin Cooper with an experienced and decorated test coach taking who takes over the franchise that has been quite successful considering the quality of players that leave the side each season and that has struggled immensely with injuries over the past few seasons.

The Chiefs have really hit the jackpot by appointing Gatland, even if he will miss one of the four seasons he has signed on for. Gatland is well regarded in Waikato, is a former player and will certainly be welcomed back home.

Winner: Damian McKenzie

It's not all doom and gloom for the talented All Black whose first shot at representing his country at a Rugby World Cup was ended after a season-ending injury he picked in April this year. McKenzie could be one of the biggest benefactors from Gatland's appointment after the work Gatland has done with former New Zealand u20, Gareth Anscombe.

Like Anscombe, McKenzie has been used at first five and fullback for both club and country with both players having their struggles adapting to the 10 jersey, particularly at test level. Anscombe has since become Wales' first choice flyhalf in recent times with Gatland showing faith in him and given him an extended run in the starting jumper.

Gatland has had the experience of Dan Biggar to fall back on but has put his faith in Anscombe, even giving him the kicking duties when Biggar is on the pitch. That kind of reliance and faith in a playmaker will bode well for McKenzie who could find himself competing for All Black 10 jersey under the new All Black head coach after the World Cup, depending on who takes over from Steve Hansen and that Beauden Barrett is expected to take a sabbatical from the All Blacks and Super Rugby after the World Cup.

There is a similar, situation for upcoming flyhalf/fullback Tiaan Falcon at the Chiefs.

Loser: Brad Weber

If McKenzie is a winner, Brad Weber could be a potential loser of Warren Gatland's appointment. Weber has forced his way back into All Black reckoning but if Gatland decides to look to the future and back scrumhalf Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi as his first choice number 9, Weber's time with the Chiefs could be coming to an end.

Weber has been in sensational form and 2020 is the final year of his contract with the Chiefs, but he does have an early out option if he decides to take it. Weber was Colin Cooper's go-to man in the 9 jersey over the last two seasons, following a broken leg injury, but Tahuriorangi has been All Blacks' head coach Steve Hansen's preferred choice as back up to Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara despite spending the majority of the 2018 & 2019 seasons on the bench.

Only time will tell if Gatland's appointment will make Weber a winner or loser but either way the 9 jersey will be one of the first questions Gatland will need to answer at the Chiefs.

Losers: South Africa

South Africa's preparations for the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2021 will certainly commence following the Rugby World Cup this year and so will Gatland's preparations for the Tour, despite taking over at the Chiefs.

With Gatland taking over at the Chiefs, it will give him the unique opportunity to see most of South Africa's talents in action and get a first-hand account of some of the players his Lions will front up against on tour in 2021.

He will also be able to pick up on some of the tactics the franchises employ and will certainly help with the selection of some of the squad members that he will use in the midweek games.

Winners: The British and Irish Lions

South Africa is definitely a loser with Gatland joining the Chiefs, which in turn makes the British and Irish Lions a winner. The first-hand experience of the South African players during his first season with the Chiefs will do the Lions no harm.

It's not just getting the insight of the South Africans that will do the Lions good, it's also the fact that Gatland will be able to test other tactics with the Chiefs in conditions other than the Northern Hemisphere.

The New Zealand franchises also work closely with the All Blacks and although Gatland is an experienced test head coach, he could certainly pick up a trick or two in the new environment. 

The stint with the Chiefs before the tour will also give Gatland, somewhat, of a break from the pressures of being an international coach and give him an opportunity to refresh and spend more time at home.

The modern game moves at a rapid pace and a year completely out of the game could have done some harm but the year in Waikato will ensure that Gatland stays up to date with the latest trends.

Losers: The Blues

At the beginning of the 2019 season, it looked as if things would change for the Blues but once again the Auckland-based franchise finished the season as New Zealand's bottom-placed side missing the playoffs by six points.

Blues fans will once again start 2020 with what is becoming a cliche of "will this be our year?". It will be the Blues' highly-rated coach Leon MacDonald's second year in charge of the franchise and after an improved season in 2019, it could all end the same for the Blues in 2020.

The Highlanders, and now the Chiefs, have both bulked up their coaching staffs for next season while this season's semi-finalists, the Crusaders and Hurricanes, are set to hold onto their coaches for the 2020 season.

Gatland will certainly boost the Chiefs chances in 2020 making it even more difficult for the Blues to elevate themselves up the New Zealand conference, with the only thing weighing in their favour is the mass player departure at the Highlanders.

Winners: Potential All Blacks

There are a number of Chiefs' stars that will certainly benefit from Gatland's appointment. Etene Nanai-Seturo is an All Black in waiting and Gatland will certainly be able to help iron out the flaws in his game that will help him become a test winger. 

The likes of Shaun Stevenson and Solomon Alaimalo have both impressed in Super Rugby but are yet to receive higher honours in a highly contested place in the All Black squad. Again, working with Gatland day in and day out could help them immensely with their test ambitions. 

Gatland's experience with the players like Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton among other top flankers in Wales will do wonders for the likes of Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane, Mitchell Karpik as well as the Jacobson brothers, Luke and Mitchell with Boshier and Luke Jacobson already pushing for higher honours.

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