LONDON (Reuters) - Rob Howley, the assistant coach of Six Nations rugby champions Wales, has been named as caretaker coach for their upcoming internationals against the Barbarians and Australia, the Welsh Rugby Union said on Thursday.
Howley will take charge of the side while head coach Warren Gatland recovers from injuries he suffered when he fell off a ladder in a domestic accident.
Gatland was cleaning the windows at his family beach house in New Zealand when he lost his balance and fell some three metres on to concrete, taking the full impact on his heels.
He suffered multiple fractures to the right heel bone and also a fracture to the left heel and will not be fit enough to lead the party.
"Rob Howley will have full control of all aspects of team preparation and selection as he takes charge of the existing management and coaching staff with immediate effect," the WRU said.
"Warren Gatland has declared his full approval of the decision which was taken during discussions with WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis about his prognosis for recuperation and recovery over the weeks ahead."
Wales face the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on June 2 before leaving for a three-test series in Australia, with the first match against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 9.
Howley was one of Gatland's first appointments when he took charge of the Welsh coaching set-up in January 2008. The former scrumhalf won 59 caps for Wales, captaining his country 22 times.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Clare Fallon)