Rob Howley played for Bridgend, Cardiff, Wasps, Wales and the Lions as a scrum-half, making 61 Test appearances

Wales backs coach Rob Howley has denied bullying allegations made against him by former full-back Lee Byrne.

In his autobiography

Howley “I am very surprised by his comments. I deny the allegations and I am seeking advice.”

Howley also says he has received an apology from Ireland’s Sean O’Brien, who criticised him after the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

O’Brien said with better coaching the Lions could have won the series 3-0.

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien has played in five Lions Tests over two tours

In a podcast interview, O’Brien said tour boss Warren Gatland, now back as Wales coach, “had a lot to answer for” and highlighted Howley’s role with the 2017 Lions.

The flanker said: “If I was being critical of any coach it would be the fact that in terms of his attributes of trying to get stuff across whereas Johnny [Sexton] and Owen [Farrell] drove everything the second week, for instance, in our attack and had a better plan in place.

“So I don’t know if it was people not buying into what he was about or whatever else.

“That’s the hard thing about a Lions tour as well; getting everyone to listen to a coach that was probably set in his ways.”

O’Brien’s Lions ‘apology’

Howley says O’Brien has since apologised to him.

“Obviously I was disappointed to hear his comments and felt there would have been a better forum to raise those comments on tour.

“He felt he enjoyed the tour, had a good time and a lot of the good stuff he said wasn’t reported.

“You move on. I have the greatest respect for Sean O’Brien, and I thought he was outstanding on the Lions tour.

“Sean has made his comments and it is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, isn’t it? It will soon be forgotten. He has apologised.”

Howley has also confirmed he will leave his Wales role after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and may target becoming a club boss in England or France.

Rob Howley was one of Warren Gatland’s first appointments 2when he took over as Wales coach

and will leave at the same time as the New Zealander.

The Welsh Rugby Union has a

Howley said of his decision: “I just think it is the right time. I feel that come 2019, I would have been here for 11 years and it’s time to move on and be involved elsewhere in a rugby environment.

“I need to examine my own values and look at what I need to do.

“It is on a bucket-list of mine that I want to coach in the (Aviva) Premiership or France.

“Whether that opportunity comes along, I don’t know.”

Howley has twice served as interim Wales coach during the Gatland era.

He was in charge in 2012-13 when Gatland was preparing for that year’s Lions tour to Australia and fulfilled the same role in 2016-17 while the Kiwi concentrated on the 2017 Lions trip.

Wales won the 2013 Grand Slam that season while the Lions went on to beat the Wallabies with Howley as backs coach.

He added: “I really enjoyed the experience of being (Wales) interim head coach, and I think to go back and have that experience of being head coach day in, day out over a period of time, maybe longer than a year, would put me in a better place.

“I think I can add a little bit of value, and that’s what I want to do.

“If that’s over the (Severn) Bridge, if that’s in France, who knows? I have made tough decisions before. The family will come first, they always have.

“The values that Warren Gatland has shared with us as a coaching team have put us, and me in particular, in good shape for whatever is on the horizon post-2019.”


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