Warren Gatland already has two players in mind for Lions captain

Annette Crawford
June 14, 2019

Gatland was the assistant coach to Ian McGeechan when the Lions toured South Africa in 2009 and from that experience, he knows that it is going to be a huge challenge.

"I would love to be involved with Super Rugby and to challenge myself with that", he told the BBC. "I have been head coach with Waikato and won a championship there, and I want to challenge myself with Super Rugby".

"This was a unanimous decision from the Lions board, and it was important that we moved swiftly and proactively to secure Warren's signature".

Gatland said he was honoured to be brought back as Lions coach.

"And to think about the possibility of leading the Lions in South Africa, I know it's going to be tough, a real rugby hotbed in terms of going over there, and the Lions in the past have always found it quite hard, how physical and passionate they are".

Gatland will make history in joining McGeechan, who coached and played for the Lions, as the only coaches to have taken charge of the Lions on three consecutive tours after the Scot did so in 1989, 1993 and 1997.

The press got straight to it after Gatland, who confirmed this was definitely his last head coach stint with the Lions, was done with his opening statement.

The tour of South Africa will be even more condensed - from 10 matches to eight and over five weeks rather than six - but in beginning the role next August, Gatland has more time to influence preparations and significantly, the chance to appoint his coaching team early.

"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.

Gatland has committed himself fully to the Lions until after the 2021 tour. "But two years is a long time and a lot can happen".

Pivac and Jones, a former Welsh test flyhalf, have left Welsh club Scarlets for the national team while Humphreys, a former Wales captain, is set to surrender his post as forwards coach at Glasgow Warriors, coached by New Zealander Dave Rennie.

This suggests that it will not be the same as the previous two tours for the Welsh players.

"Being a part of the Lions is an opportunity to go to South Africa and finish some unfinished business".

After sharing the spoils with the All Blacks Gatland said he was not convinced that a similar scenario in two years' time should be settled by extra time. That would be something pretty special if I could achieve that.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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