Saturday, 15 June, 2019

Gatland to lead Lions for third time in South Africa

Warren Gatland has agreed to become head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021 Warren Gatland has agreed to become head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021 Credit PA
Sidney Guerrero | 14 June, 2019, 16:43

Warren Gatland has said that he would not have taken the role of British & Irish Lions head coach if he didn't believe his side could win the series in South Africa in 2021.

The New Zealander was on Wednesday confirmed as Lions coach for the third successive time after he led the tourists to Australia and New Zealand in 2013 and 2017 respectively.

Given the compressed nature of the South African tour - featuring two less games than in New Zealand - Gatland is expected to largely opt for continuity with his assistant coaches, though Andy Farrell's presence as defence coach may be doubtful due to his imminent promotion to lead Ireland after the World Cup.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley described Gatland as a "world-class coach" with a "proven track record", who "knows the Lions better than anyone else now coaching in world rugby".

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said Gatland was the only man they wanted to again take the reins. "It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations". "The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again".

Undoubtedly Gatland and the Lions were more pleased with the outcome but he has at least acknowledged demand could be there for extra time if the series in South Africa is square heading into the final test.

"Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us - playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated".

"I can promise you 100 per cent I won't be coaching England", he told the BBC.

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Lions managing director Ben Calveley described Gatland as a "world-class coach" with a "proven track record" who "knows the Lions better than anyone else now coaching in world rugby".

Gatland will leave his role as Wales coach after this year's World Cup in Japan and will become only the second person after Sir Ian McGeechan to take charge of the Lions on three consecutive tours.

Gatland has committed himself fully to the Lions until after the 2021 tour.

After the New Zealand tour, Gatland said that the squeeze on preparation time was putting the whole Lions concept at risk but the 2021 tour looks set to be even tighter.

The Lions lost the 2009 series to the Springboks 2-1.

Warren Gatland has "categorically" ruled out coaching England.

"Yeah I think so, I would have done the rounds".

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