Warren Gatland could achieve “spectacular things” as a future All Blacks head coach, according to Lawrence Dallaglio.
Gatland will reach the impressive landmark of 100 Tests in charge of Wales in Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin.
The 54-year-old will leave Wales after the 2019 World Cup, and could well step into a Super Rugby coaching role in his native New Zealand.
“Moving from coaching Wales to coaching the All Blacks is a well-trodden path, with Graham Henry and Steve Hansen having done exactly that,” Dallaglio told Press Association Sport.
“They are rightly now heralded as two of the best coaches the game has ever seen, and I would already put Warren in that bracket to be honest.
“So I see no reason why Warren couldn’t absolutely follow the same path.
“If he’s given the tools and the resources of the All Blacks then he could potentially carry on that succession line and achieve some spectacular things there himself.”
Gatland led Dallaglio and Wasps to three consecutive Premiership titles and the 2004 Heineken Cup in his coaching stint between 2002 and 2005.
The former Waikato hooker has held Wales’ top job since 2007, progressing to lead the British and Irish Lions on three successive tours.
Gatland pulled off the Lions’ coup of a drawn series with the back-to-back world champion All Blacks in New Zealand last summer, a feat which Dallaglio considers central to the current Wales boss’ future chances of coaching his home nation.
“He’s one of the few people that have beaten the All Blacks, and in New Zealand too by the way, so that’s not a bad calling card for the job interview,” said Dallaglio, speaking on behalf of Land Rover.
“So I’m sure part of that process would be going back to New Zealand and getting himself embedded and entrenched back into the All Blacks way.”
Hailing Gatland’s 100-Test milestone with Wales, Dallaglio continued: “It’s an amazing achievement and should be rightly celebrated.
“He’s an amazing coach, you’ve only got to look at his achievements with Wales, and in many ways he’s been a victim of his own success, because he over-achieved in his first two years, with back-to-back Grand Slams.
“So he has achieved enormous amounts, and that then set the expectation levels incredibly high and it’s always difficult to replicate that.
“You’ve only got to talk to the players under him, him and his coaches are adored by the players that play under them.
“So it’s huge credit to him. He’s very bold and brave. He makes big calls, he doesn’t always get them right – but more often than not he does, and then people have to eat a large slice of humble pie, including players.
“He’s a great motivator, he lives by the adage that none of us are as good as all of us. He wants superstars but treats everyone the same.
“He’s not afraid to put his neck on the line as a coach, but he makes it fun too – and also he’s very shrewd.
“He understands that great teams are coach-led but player-driven; a good coach can lead a team and a vision, but that has to be driven by a core group.”
:: Lawrence Dallaglio is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is celebrating its testimonial season this year; 10 years of supporting grass roots rugby in the UK through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal