Gatland gave no thought to tilt at All Blacks job
Warren Gatland says the All Blacks didn't enter his thinking as he extended his rugby coaching job at Wales through to 2019.
That will mean another two World Cups in charge of the Red Dragons to go with the 2011 edition where they finished fourth.
The former All Blacks hooker has long been touted as a potential coach of the New Zealand scene after a celebrated career in Europe that was highlighted by this year's British & Irish Lions series win against the Wallabies but also includes grand slams with Wales, success with glamour English club Wasps and early promise on the international scene with Ireland.
It's no longer an apprenticeship - Gatland is very much his own boss and one of the world's best coaches, which should bring him into consideration for the All Blacks job.
But with Steve Hansen firmly in charge and New Zealand working a succession system from within, Gatland clearly felt he was best to stay put for the time being.
"There was no thought in my process about coaching the All Blacks. I don't think about planning what I want to do - I'm a great believer in what will be, will be," Gatland told The Times newspaper in Britain.
He also felt there could be a chance down the line for him.
"I'm only 50 so still a really young coach so plenty of time to look at other opportunities in the future."
Gatland's standing in Britain is huge. Last weekend he was named coach of the year at the prestigious BBC sports awards and the Lions won the team of the year award.
Despite limited success against southern hemisphere sides, Wales are a northern powerhouse and Gatland has a firm belief they can take the next step. This coaching extension will allow him to oversee that.
"You want to be part of something you think can be really special," Gatland said.
"I felt like the job was sort of half done in terms of the amount of quality we have coming through. That's incredibly exciting. We can continue for the next six years with this group of players. And you look at what is coming through in the under-18s and under-20s in terms of quality and you selfishly want to be a part of that."
Gatland, who heads back to New Zealand this week to spend Christmas at "home", says he is open to coaching the Lions in 2017 when they tour New Zealand.
"If I had the opportunity to be involved [with the Lions] again, that's going to be because of Wales being successful in the next couple of years," Gatland said.
"If my whole focus and contemplation is on Wales, then if Wales are successful, you put yourself in the frame.
"Then after that it's potentially maybe the Lions approaching you, then it's negotiating release with the WRU."