Welsh Rugby chief executive Martyn Phillips has confirmed Robin McBryde will lead the Wales coaching team for their June tour of the Pacific Islands.
Phillips, after congratulating Rob Howley on his appointment as British & Irish Lions backs coach, immediately outlined the plans for Wales’ current assistant coach to take charge for the June 2017 tour.
McBryde assumes head coach responsibilities for the third time after leading Wales on tour of USA and Canada in 2009 and for a two-Test campaign against Japan in 2013 – both occasions which coincided with previous Lions appointments for both Warren Gatland and Howley.
“Rob Howley joins Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions coaching team with our best wishes, as the Lions embark upon one of the toughest and most high profile campaigns in the world game,” said Phillips.
“Both coaches can only benefit from the coaching experiences available to them and, in turn, we know the Wales national squad set-up will be able to reap the rewards of that experience upon their return to us.
“We have a clear strategy in Welsh Rugby, with coaching and coach development a central priority at all levels of the game.
“It will be of huge benefit to Welsh Rugby in the long term that, within a small window during their coaching careers, we are able to provide significant development opportunities for Warren, Rob and Robin.
“We are also at an advanced stage in discussions with a number of other individuals about the summer tour and hope to be in a position to confirm the full make-up of the management team next week.”
Wales are touring the Pacific Islands in June 2017, with specific fixtures against Tonga and Samoa to be confirmed.
“The tour is an exciting opportunity for the squad, it is always an honour to represent your country and to do so overseas carries with it extra responsibility,” said McBryde, who made his own international playing debut on a tour of Canada, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in June 1994 – against Fiji.
“We will be facing two passionate rugby nations and it will be a huge challenge for the players, but an opportunity for them to show what they are able to do in the red jersey.
“For me it is another exciting opportunity to lead the team. It is something I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past and I’m really looking forward to doing it again at the end of the season.
“As is natural in a Lions year, we will inevitably have some senior players missing, but our focus will very much be on discovering future potential alongside maintaining current standards and, hopefully, coming away with two good performances and wins.”
Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies, who is also on the selection panel for the British & Irish Lions coaches, added:
“2017 is a real summer of opportunity for Welsh coaches and should benefit the whole of Welsh Rugby in the years ahead.
“Because of the nature of international rugby it is not often that you get the opportunity to develop coaches in different environments.
“Our coaches and players have been invigorated by their Lions experiences on previous campaigns and there is little doubt that a tour of New Zealand will provide the ultimate test and so once again both mentally stimulate and inspire each individual.”