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Gats the way to do it! WRU consider swapping Wales coach Wayne Pivac for a return to Warren Gatland 

You know what they say – never go back.

Warren Gatland is now the firm favourite to return as Wales coach if the Welsh Rugby Union decide to pull the plug on Wayne Pivac.

But any attempt to wind back the clock – and swap the current coach with the previous one – would be flying in the face of one of the old adages of professional sport.

That is, once you tidy your desk, wave goodbye, and leave the car park, then never, ever, ever go back to the same job, no matter how much money they offer you.

Jose Mourinho, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, John Toshack, Ian McGeechan . . . they all retraced their steps at various points and none of them really worked the old magic.

Pivac is under huge pressure after a year in which he has only managed to win three out of 12 matches.

At the weekend, he watched his team undermine his survival chances when they surrendered a 21-point lead to lose 39-34 at home to Australia.

So, now comes the thing all coaches loathe and fear in equal measure – a “review” of their work.

Let’s not beat around the bush.

Reviews of coaches and football managers are not undertaken because they’re doing a great job.

Whoever is doing the reviewing, they normally start by writing their recommendation and then go backwards to build a case for the sack.

So, let’s consider the options:

Stick with Pivac

Why change horses in midstream, when you could end up drowning?

Pivac won the Six Nations title as recently as last year, so it’s not as if his good days are in the dim and distant past.

The World Cup is only nine months away and dumping him would bring upheaval.

Wales have tried sacking their coach before in World Cup year and it hasn’t been the answer.

They got rid of Ron Waldron before 1991, Alan Davies before 1995 and Mike Ruddock before 2007.

It didn’t end well.

Bin off Pivac

There are moments when a coach seems to have come to the end of the road and this does feel as if this could one of them.

Nothing Pivac tries comes off at present – changing the captain, the half-backs, even the position of the stadium roof.

The players seem jaded and uncertain, as if the weight on his shoulders is now being carried by them onto the pitch.

Go for Gats

He’s done it before, he knows the players inside-out and crucially he left on good terms with most of them rather than bad.

He won’t come cheap for a short-term rescue job until the World Cup – there’s talk of him already demanding £500,000 – but then he wasn’t cheap the first time around and you get what you pay for.

Gatland enjoyed the profile he had in Wales and if he feels the All Blacks job has probably passed him by, another stint with Wales would appeal and maybe top up that pension fund.

Other options

Steve Tandy

If you’d said to an Ospreys fan a few years ago that Steve Tandy would one day coach Wales, they would have given you long odds.

But those odds are now fairly short after Tandy re-invented himself with the Waratahs in Australia, with Scotland as their current defence coach, and on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa last year.

He doesn’t have Gatland’s charisma, but he is organised, single-minded and could maybe be a man for a crisis.

Or, since he served under Gatland on that Lions tour, another option the WRU might look at is to make him the Kiwi’s assistant.

Ronan O’Gara

Wales have only ever gone for Welshmen or New Zealanders, but why not an Irishman?

O’Gara was a legendary player with Ireland and he’s made a big impression as a coach – first with Racing in France, then in New Zealand with the Crusaders, and currently back in France with La Rochelle.

At 45, he would represent a younger, more progressive turn for the WRU rather than going back to Gatland.

But would he want the hassle for a nine-month stint, when a bad experience might dent his reputation when it comes to one day taking the Ireland job – possibly quite soon if Andy Farrell stands down after the World Cup?

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