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Caretaker boss role for Howley
Rob Howley has been appointed as Wales' caretaker head coach for the summer internationals against the Barbarians and Australia to allow Warren Gatland to recuperate fully from injuries suffered in a domestic accident.
Gatland, who led Wales to the 2012 RBS 6 Nations title earlier this year and is the overwhelming favourite to lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Australia in the summer of 2013, suffered a foot injury after falling from a ladder at his home in New Zealand and will temporarily hand control of the team to assistant coach Howley.
The Welsh Rugby Union said in a statement: "Rob Howley will have full control of all aspects of team preparation and selection as he takes charge of the existing management and coaching staff with immediate effect."
It continued: "Gatland has declared his full approval of the decision which was taken during discussions with WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis about his prognosis for recuperation and recovery over the weeks ahead."
Gatland was cleaning windows at his family beach house on Waihi Beach when he lost his balance and fell around 10 feet on to concrete, taking the full impact on his heels. He suffered multiple fractures to the right heel bone and also a fracture to the left heel bone.
He is yet to undergo surgery as his injuries are given time to heal, but the WRU say Gatland has been advised that the injury to his right foot is severe and that he will not be able to bear weight on it by early June.
Wales face the Barbarians on June 2 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff before embarking on a three-Test series away to Australia, with the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 9.
"Although I am devastated to be away from the action I am delighted that we have someone of Rob's calibre to take charge in my absence," said Gatland. "I have talked through all the potential scenarios with Rob Howley and Roger Lewis, but the medical advice is clear and cannot be ignored.
"I will not be ready to take charge of Wales for the international against the Barbarians and if I recover enough to get to Australia during June I am still unlikely to be mobile enough to play a full coaching role.
"It has been difficult to accept that advice, but it just makes me more determined than ever to get back into the driving seat with Wales later on this summer as we prepare for an autumn series which includes games against New Zealand and Australia."