Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs CEO Michael Collins hails Warren Gatland appointment

Chiefs CEO Michael Collins feels he's pulled off a major coup by signing Wales coach Warren Gatland on a four-year deal.

The appointment comes just a day after announcing they'd part ways with Colin Cooper.

"I'm really excited about the chance to come home," Gatland said. "It seems strange, considering I have been away from New Zealand for so long."

Michael Collins thinks he's locked down the best coach in the world.

"I certainly think he is, but I might be biased," Collins said.

Gatland replaces Colin Cooper, who announced his departure on Thursday with a year left on his deal - so he could spend more time with family.

Michael Collins says Cooper agreed to part ways months ago, so they could chase the coaches who'll soon be available in the next World Cup cycle.

"At the time Colin agreed he'd step down, Warren wasn't in the picture," Collins said.

Collins confirmed there wasn't a previous handshake agreement with Gatland, knowing he would step down as Wales coach this year.

Gatland announced two weeks ago he would continue as British and Irish Lions coach in 2021, but would also like a Super Rugby gig. That's when Collins saw his chance.

He sold the idea to New Zealand Rugby who contracts the coaches. They agreed despite Gatland taking a year out in 2021 to coach the British and Irish Lions.

It's not perfect from NZR's position but they've been very accommodating and know that for the Chiefs to get Warren Gatland back is massive," Collins said.

Gatland will start shortly after Wales' World Cup campaign ends.

"He might get one or two days but he'll be here December 1 or 2 to start work," Collins said.