Andy Farrell set to take up Lions coaching role in time for South Africa Tests

Ireland coach will head to South Africa after summer Test matches against Japan and USA

Andy Farrell is now expected to join the British & Irish Lions tour in time for the Test series against the Springboks in light of Ireland's tour to Fiji not going ahead.

Ireland’s summer Tests were considered a priority for Farrell over the proposed Lions tour, both by the head coach himself and also the IRFU, all the more so as last summer’s proposed tour to Australia was cancelled.

A three-Test series in the Pacific Islands would have taken in three Tests on the first three Saturdays in July, the 3rd, 10th and 17th, and so joining the Lions’ expedition in time for the first of their three Tests against the Springboks in Cape Town on July 24th would have been a fairly tight time frame.

However, with Ireland now playing two games, against Japan and the USA, on July 3rd and 10th, this makes it much more feasible for Farrell to hook up with the Lions in a coaching capacity, potentially in time for the Cape Town leg in the middle of the tour, which features games against the South Africa A side, the Stormers and the Springboks.

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Farrell was the defence coach on the Lions’ tours to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017 under Gatland. The two men have a good rapport and Gatland values the Irish head coach’s input and experience. He has also left the door ajar for Farrell to be added to the coaching ticket if possible.

On foot of naming Gregor Townsend, Steve Tandy, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins as his assistants in April, Gatland addressed the specific possibility of Farrell joining the tour at a later date and said: "Yeah it's possible, it's why we've left one of the spots open. Whoever it is, do we feel like we need someone else to come in, is it at the start of the tour, during the tour, before the Test matches take place? I haven't been specific about a role but it's something I want to have the possibility of being able to do if we feel there's a need for it."

Farrell being co-opted onto the coaching ticket looks sure to happen now.