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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Sunday, 23 January 2011

Warren Gatland concedes Wales Rugby World Cup sack fear

Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland signed a new Wales contract in October

Warren Gatland has revealed he expects the sack should he not guide Wales to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

The Wales coach, who will name his Six Nations squad on Sunday, will take his 2008 Grand Slam winners to his native New Zealand for September's showpiece.

Wales share a tricky Pool D with Samoa, Namibia, 2007 World Cup nemesis Fiji and world champions South Africa.

But Gatland has conceded: "Make no bones about it, if we don't make the quarter-finals I am gone."

Gatland, who signed a four-year deal to be Wales coach in December 2007, only signed a new contract with the Welsh Rugby Union in October to take him to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

But Gatland's predecessor Gareth Jenkins was sacked in the immediate aftermath of Wales' 2007 Rugby World Cup pool exit following their shock 38-34 defeat to Fiji in Nantes.

And the Kiwi coach, who had previously guided London Wasps to Heineken Cup glory in 2007, feels he will get the same treatment should Wales fail to make the last eight in New Zealand.

"They will get rid of me and that is fair enough," Gatland told Wales on Sunday newspaper.

"When I took this role on, my whole focus of the four years was getting Wales ready for the World Cup in 2011 after what happened in France.

"I know I will be judged on the tournament.

The contract we have entered into, of course, has protection for the Welsh Rugby Union but also Warren as well

Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis on Gatland's new contract

"I can't make sure that it does not happen again but the planning that has gone into it, with the camps we have prepared, means physically we will be in great shape.

"It is up to me to make sure I learn the lessons from previous campaigns and have no regrets at the end of the tournament if they do get rid of me."

Gatland has only won twice in his last 13 Wales internationals and is currently preparing to name his Six Nations squad on Sunday.

Yet despite Wales' poor run, the WRU awarded Gatland a four-year extension to his Wales reign to provide coaching stability.

And should Gatland remain until 2015, the 47-year-old will become Welsh rugby's longest-serving national coach.

But WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis conceded Gatland has a release clause in his new and improved contract that he could leave his post as Wales coach should either party want a change with the next four years.

"The contract we have entered into, of course, has protection for the Welsh Rugby Union but also Warren as well," Lewis announced in October.

"There are safeguards in place to deal with the 'what ifs.'"

Wales begin their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign against South Africa in Wellington on 11 September - as the Welsh bid to better their best World Cup performance of third place in 1987, also in New Zealand.

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see also
Williams omitted from Wales squad
23 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Wales consider Williams selection
21 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gatland eyes stand-ins for Jones
21 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gatland sees Euro flop benefits
20 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Wales suffer Shanklin injury blow
18 Jan 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Henson suffers Six Nations blow
17 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Bishop blow for Ospreys & Wales
14 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Blues turn down Rees ban appeal
13 Jan 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Wales suffer Jenkins injury blow
10 Jan 11 |  Welsh
North blow for Wales and Scarlets
07 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Gatland signs new Wales contract
18 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Gatland unveiled as Wales coach
09 Nov 07 |  Welsh

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