Chiefs shuffle coaching structure after Warren Gatland's return

Warren Gatland is back in Chiefs colours for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, but will serve as director of rugby Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The Chiefs have announced a change in coaching structure for the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season with Warren Gatland moving into a director of rugby role on his return from British & Irish Lions duty.

The decision means Clayton McMillan will remain coach of the Chiefs next year having led the Waikato franchise to the Super Rugby Aotearoa final while Gatland was away.

The Chiefs then won four out of five games in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, their only defeat coming in Townsville against the Reds after Damian McKenzie had been sent off for a high tackle.

Gatland, meanwhile, had back in 2020 signed off his first season as Chiefs coach with eight straight defeats in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

His Lions were beaten 2-1 by the Springboks in South Africa earlier this year.

The change of structure allows McMillan the chance to build on his success from 2021, while also retaining Gatland's vast experience.

"No one was prouder than I was with the gains made by the Chiefs during 2021. It was outstanding to see both individuals and the group grow and achieve success and that includes Clayton, who brought his vision and mana to the head coach role," Gatland said in a statement.

"I am excited at the prospect of working with Clayton and the other coaches to build on those foundations as we strive for success in the new Super Rugby Pacific in 2022."

McMillan had already signed on with the Chiefs as an assistant for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, but will now take greater ownership of the team's direction in what is a new era for Super Rugby next year.

"Having lived my life in the Chiefs region, I am a Chiefs man through and through and like Gats I want to see the Chiefs back at the top of the Super Rugby table," McMillan said in a statement.

"As I have said previously, we complement each other well and one of the major attractions for me when I joined the club was to work alongside Gats and benefit from his immense knowledge and experience.

"We are committed to working together to position the Chiefs for sustained success and I can't wait to get started."