Alun Wyn Jones Wales coach Wayne Pivac inherits quality and expectation from Warren Gatland

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Wales’ success under Gatland ‘unrivalled’ says captain Jones

Transitions of power are not always smooth.

After his party lost the 2010 general election, Labour Treasury minister Liam Byrne left his successors a memorable short note which stated blankly: “No money left.”

Before a winter that may bring more political upheaval, Wales’ departing head coach Warren Gatland hopes to leave a better inheritance for the heir to his throne, Wayne Pivac.

Gatland’s own legacy is assured, thanks to a 12-year reign which has produced four Six Nations titles – including three Grand Slams – two World Cup semi-finals and a first stint as the world’s number one-ranked side.

But as he approached his final match in charge – Wales’ World Cup bronze match loss to New Zealand – Gatland had already been busy laying foundations for the future.

The New Zealander had built towards this tournament for years, always with one eye on what he was leaving behind.

Planning had been particularly focused during the past 24 months, during which Gatland gave debuts to seven of Wales’ starting 15 against the All Blacks in Tokyo.

“I’ve always been conscious of what is being left behind and there are some young players that, particularly for the future, needed an opportunity to play against the All Blacks in a big game at the World Cup,” Gatland said.

“We felt it was important we didn’t just think about ourselves, it was looking at the bigger picture – which is what is good for Welsh rugby?”

As the Wales squad flew home on Monday, this was Gatland’s passing of the flame before his return to New Zealand to take charge of Waikato Chiefs.

So when Pivac picks up the mantle and begins his new job, what will the former Scarlets coach find in his in-tray?

Nurture the next generation

Assistant coaches Stephen Jones (left) and Jonathan Humphreys (right) flank new Wales boss Wayne Pivac

After bowing out on Friday, Gatland said it would break his heart if Wales returned to the “doldrums” in which he found the team when he took over in 2007.

Thanks to his tenure of sustained success – and commitment to developing young players – a regression of that severity looks unlikely.

Gatland leaves his successor a squad which includes a raft

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