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Gatland lauds brilliant Wales

Wales head coach Warren Gatland heaped praise on his RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam winners after their 16-9 Millennium Stadium win over France, but refused to be drawn on whether he is set to coach the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia next year.

Wales completed a third clean sweep in eight seasons with a hard-fought victory over a gritty French side, emulating the feat of the legendary Welsh sides of the 1970s.

When asked to sum up his side's key virtues, the New Zealander said: "Honesty and hard work. These guys have been a real credit to themselves, Wales and Welsh rugby in how they have prepared themselves."

He added: "They are excellent professionals and they make our job as coaches easy as they do more than what we expect and what is required, and when you have players doing that and looking after themselves and doing all the extras it goes a long way to making us coaches look good."

Wales' win marked a fitting tribute to 1976 Grand Slam-winning skipper Mervyn Davies, who died on Thursday after a battle with cancer.

The Grand Slam, Gatland's second since arriving in the principality in 2008, makes him the outstanding candidate to lead the Lions Down Under in the summer of 2013.

The Lions want their coach for that venture to have a clear 12-month window to prepare for the tour, meaning if Gatland were to take the role one of his backroom staff, possibly attack coach Rob Howley, would take the reins for next season.

But Gatland would not discuss the post, and even joked that the Lions may not be able to meet his financial demands.

"Perhaps I can think about that tomorrow. I know I am in the frame and the union have given me support for that," he said.

"If the offer came along I have said it would be a huge honour, but there are a lot of things to put in place before that and we don't know what their requirements are and I'm not sure whether they can afford me either."


From Belfast Telegraph