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I want Martyn to play in the 2011World Cup-Gatland; Howley dismisses calls from Hadley for clearout at the Cardiff Blues after their Heineken exit.

Byline: Gareth Griffiths

WARREN Gatland has revealed he wants veteran flanker Martyn Williams to prolong his international career until the next World Cup in 2011.

Williams originally retired at the end of the last World Cup in France last year but the 32-year-old was persuaded to reverse his decision by the New Zealander when he took over the Wales coaching job.

Gatland initially suggested he wanted the Blues openside to carry on for between 18 months to two years while he found and nurtured his successor.

But following the successful role he played in the Grand Slam triumph and the fact his two main rivals, Robin Sowden-Taylor and Ben Lewis, are not playing regular rugby with their regions, the Kiwi wants Williams to commit himself through to his fourth World Cup in New Zealand.

And Gatland is even thinking of taking a long-term view by wrapping Williams up in cotton wool.

The Kiwi is considering not taking his magnificent seven to face world champions South Africa in their own backyard in the two test series in June.

"He had a good Six Nations and obviously wants to carry on.

"It is now a case of sitting down and seeing what is best for him.

"Because if we manage Martyn right and he is still playing well, I think we can get him through to the next World Cup.

"He is a player who we have to make sure we don't break and have to try and get him to 2011.

"So we will need to decide whether the best thing is for him to go to South Africa or to have a longer off-season and freshen up."

Gatland has also expressed his frustration at not being able to call on Williams understudy Robin Sowden-Taylor for the Springboks star after he was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

"It is a disappointment for Robin to be injured ahead of the South Africa tour," admitted Gatland.

"We are trying to find the next quality seven to replace and fill Martyn's shoes and the tour would have been an ideal opportunity."

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ON THE RUN: Yannick Nyanga of Toulouse, leaves Blues centre Tom Shanklin trailing in the Heineken Cup quarter-final
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 10, 2008
Words:368
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