Lions then eye to Super Rugby for Gatland

Carrie Guzman
June 14, 2019

Gatland also admitted his next Lions tour will be his last, with the Kiwi having acted as forward coach in the 2009 tour to South Africa and been installed as head coach every time since.

Gatland led the Lions to a series draw in New Zealand two years ago as well as victory against Australia in 2013.

The appointment is set to be confirmed at a press conference in London.

"I'll focus 100 per cent on the Lions for those 12 months and then hopefully have an opportunity to go back to New Zealand and pick up something and then take it from there".

The 55-year-old steps down as Wales coach after this year's World Cup and while he has expressed an interest in taking an extended break after 11 years with the current Six Nations champions, he will be free to take up consultancy work before beginning with the Lions.

"I want to go back".

Gatland becomes only the second man after Ian McGeehan to lead the Lions for a third time and will take up the role full-time next August.

Warren Gatland said he could not turn down a third stint as British and Irish Lions head coach as he has "unfinished business" to settle in South Africa. "I have been head coach with Waikato and won a championship there, and I want to challenge myself with Super Rugby".

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Though the final details of the itinerary are still to be settled, there will be only eight games, including three tests, compared with 10 in New Zealand in 2017.

The New Zealander, who will end his tenure as Wales head coach after the Rugby World Cup, has had a change of heart and will lead the Lions in 2021.

"South Africa is a special place to play rugby".

"But one thing of reflecting back was the hospitality we had and the atmosphere of the games was incredible".

"If I was looking at players today, (Wales lock) Alun Wyn Jones comes to mind, (England flyhalf) Owen Farrell has been incredibly successful", he said. "But two years is a long time and a lot can happen".

"I've been extremely privileged to have the honour of being involved with the Lions, this will be my fourth tour, and I'm so thankful to have been given the opportunity".

With just two players included for the 2017 tour, Scotland may be more inclined to allow Gregor Townsend to join the Lions on a short-term basis this time around, too. That would be something pretty special if I could achieve that.

Tens of thousands of fans are likely to travel to South Africa as Lions tours have developed into a huge pilgrimage over the last 20 years or so, red-clad fans usually outnumbering home fans.

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