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Howley hails Gatland influence


Warren Gatland (right) and Rob Howley

Warren Gatland (right) and Rob Howley

Warren Gatland (right) and Rob Howley

Caretaker Wales boss Rob Howley has hailed the "immeasurable" influence of Warren Gatland on his coaching career.

Former Wales captain Howley will take charge of next month's Millennium Stadium clash against the Barbarians and three-Test Australia tour while Gatland recovers from fractures to both heels sustained after a fall at his holiday home in New Zealand last month.

"The influence Warren has had on my coaching career is huge," said Howley, who today named four uncapped players among a 38-man training squad for the Baa-baas clash and Australia trip."He has been a huge mentor to me. It's immeasurable, really. I wouldn't be sat here if it wasn't for Warren."

Gatland has led Wales to a World Cup semi-final and two title, Grand Slam-winning RBS 6 Nations campaigns since taking over as national coach in early 2008.

Howley added: "When you look at his CV and the trophies he has won, it speaks for itself. His biggest strength is he is straight down the line - he is honest."

He has been in regular contact with 2013 British and Irish Lions coaching favourite Gatland, who is recuperating at home in Hamilton following the fall.

"It is nice to catch up and see how he is convalescing," Howley added. "It's great to have someone you can talk to, whether it is on life or rugby. He has got his sense of humour back. He saw a surgeon last week and he is on track that things are progressing nicely."

Howley's current group of players will be reduced to 34 for the mission Down Under, but one headline selection to face the Barbarians will be flanker Martyn Williams, who is poised for his 100th cap.

Meanwhile, he confirmed that locks Ian Evans and Alun-Wyn Jones will both miss the first Test in Brisbane on June 9. Evans is getting married, while Jones is attending his sister's wedding.

And that should herald a recall for Bradley Davies, who was cited following a dangerous tackle in Wales' opening Six Nations game against Ireland and then missed the tournament remainder through suspension.

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