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Gatland set to join Sir Graham in 100-Test club

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Sportal.co.nz     21 Nov 2013     Getty Images

It's something of an irony for Gatland, who warmed the Test bench as a player when unable to supplant Sean Fitzpatrick as a hooker but never gained a Test cap.

Wales' game, on Friday, against Tonga will seal the milestone for Gatland, who after stints with Ireland, Wasps and Waikato, took up the position after Wales' exited the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Fifty-eight of his Tests have been with Wales in which time they have won three Six Nations titles and two Grand Slams.

He followed in the footsteps of Henry at Wales, and also the incumbent All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

One of Gatland's assistant coaches with Wales, former international halfback Rob Howley said he was thankful Gatland joined Wales.

"Looking from the outside when he was appointed, I had no doubt that Wales were going to be successful under him. He has a very integrated coaching approach and challenges the players, coaches and staff to be better," Howley told the The Rugby Paper.

"He creates an environment of hard work and intensity which has been critical to the success he, and the teams he has been involved with, have achieved.

"But he also knows when to relax, it's an important balance," he said.

Welsh captain Ryan Jones, who holds the country's record for most games as skipper told WalesOnline: "We've made huge strides under him. In terms of the difference in the environment, the difference in our results, we've changed beyond all recognition from before.

"He's been incredibly successful, which in professional sport is what we are all judged on. We are all judged on results. We've won trophies and it's been a great few years really," he said.