Chiefs pay offer just not enough for Gatland
Warren Gatland came close to returning to New Zealand rugby after the 2011 World Cup, it has been revealed.
Speaking at Monday night's Waikato University public lecture series, the Wales coach said it was a "toss of the coin".
He had been offered a coaching position with the Chiefs, but the negotiations stalled and ultimately failed over the issue of money.
"I nearly made the decision after the World Cup [to return to New Zealand] and it was a toss of the coin. I was going to come back and I had been offered the Chiefs job and New Zealand made me an offer of a contract," Gatland said.
He said the issue was not about competing with the money that Wales had offered him, which was "about four or five times the difference".
"I went back to New Zealand and I said to them: ‘Look, it's not about the money but I am finding it a little bit difficult to accept the contract, is there a chance of any movement on it'?"
When the Chiefs asked why, Gatland said they were offering him less money than he had been on in 2007.
"[I told them] ‘Well, you have offered me less money than I was on in 2007 when I was coaching Waikato and was involved with the Chiefs, to coach the Chiefs in 2012'."
Gatland said he asked the Chiefs if there was any chance they could improve their offer.
"[And] they just said: ‘Things are tight at the moment, the economy is not great' and they said ‘that's the best we can do, take it or leave it'."
Gatland said he came close to coming home.
"If they had have moved 10 or 15 thousand I would have said ‘okay, that's great . . . you've moved a little bit' and I would have taken the Chiefs job and [instead] they just said ‘take it or leave it' and I said ‘thanks very much, I'll leave it'.
"So that's what happened."
It is unclear what role Gatland would have taken with the franchise, as current coach Dave Rennie had been signed on a two-year contract in April 2011.
Gatland re-signed with the Welsh Rugby Union before the 2011 World Cup.
In October, Wales Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis said Gatland was signed to a "watertight" contract until 2015 and he did not want him going anywhere after the World Cup.
Lewis said there had been discussions between the WRU and Gatland about the "huge commitment" they had made to Gatland, and vice-versa.
Gatland also revealed he still harbours a burning desire to coach the All Blacks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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