Warren Gatland: I turned down New Zealand chance to coach the Lions

Warren Gatland has revealed that he turned down the chance to manage the All Blacks. Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Warren Gatland has said he did not throw his hat into the ring to replace All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as he wanted to honour his commitments to the Chiefs and British and Irish Lions.

Gatland, who stepped down as Wales coach after guiding them to the World Cup semifinals, was on New Zealand Rugby's list of 26 homegrown candidates to succeed Hansen and offered an invitation to apply for the job, but decided to stick with his plan to take over the Chiefs next year.

As part of his four-year deal with the Super Rugby side, the New Zealander will also be able to take a year off to lead the Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.

"It was nice to be contacted [but] I politely declined putting my name forward," Gatland told New Zealand's Radio Sport Breakfast podcast.

"I'm a little bit old school... I'd made the commitment to the Chiefs and I'd made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that ... honour the commitment I made to those two sides.

"Maybe sometime in the future I may get that opportunity again."

He led the Lions to a Test series victory over Australia in 2013 and a drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.

Gatland also denied any rift between himself and England head coach Eddie Jones after both men were involved in a war of words at the World Cup.

"It's a game," he told the Telegraph. "I think we both know how it works. Sometimes the questions that are asked of us, if we haven't seen the comments of the other, are twisted a little bit, manipulated.

"We've been out for dinner a couple of times with the coaching staffs, before the Six Nations. I think we're aware there's a bit of side games that go on sometimes.

"You might say things where you're taking a bit of pressure off the players and that becomes the focus. I've learnt not to get too involved in that.

"In the past I would have thrown a few hand grenades in there and said things, but you'll have noticed in the last few campaigns and even the World Cup I didn't say a lot of things publicly, just kept my head down. And Eddie's brilliant at it; [he can] do enough talking for all of us.

Gatland took over Wales in 2007 and guided them to four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams.