Warren Gatland confirmed as British and Irish Lions head coach for 2017

He follows Ian McGeechan as the only man to coach the Lions on back-to-back tours

Warren Gatland has again been confirmed as the British and Irish Lions head coach. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Warren Gatland has again been confirmed as the British and Irish Lions head coach. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Warren Gatland has been confirmed as the British and Irish Lions coach again for next year’s daunting tour to New Zealand.

Unveiled in a press conference on Wesdnesday - the former All Blacks hooker will thus emulate Ian McGeechan as the only man to coach the Lions on back-to-back tours, having guided the Lions to a 2-1 series win in Australia in 2013.

Gatland told the media on Wednesday that “there’s no bigger honour” than managing the Lions. And his message to the players - “If you have any doubts about our chances, don’t get on the plane.”

Once Joe Schmidt followed Eddie Jones in ruling himself out of consideration for the role of Lions’ head coach for this assignment last May, Gatland really was the stand-out contender. Indeed, only Vern Cotter’s candidature ensured there was a competitive interview process.

Second Captains

The Wales head coach will start immediately and work exclusively with the Lions until the end of next year’s tour.

The selection panel comprised of Lions Chairman Tom Grace, Gareth Davies, Andy Irvine and John Spencer as well as Chief Executive John Feehan.

New Zealand 2017 tour manager Spencer said: “We are delighted to have Warren as head coach for a second tour. His international track record speaks for itself and he also understands the essence of the Lions and how to unite four nations in one purpose. Warren is acutely aware of the challenges we will face in New Zealand and we are confident he is the right man to lead us to a series victory.”

Gatland himself added: “Coaching the Lions is a great privilege. The 2013 tour was a real career highlight for me and I am honoured to be offered the role again. The chance to work with the best players from the four home nations is a coach’s dream and we have some outstanding talent to select from.

“Likewise, there are some outstanding coaches who could potentially be involved and we’ll look to announce them in December. I’m looking forward to seeing how they and the players get on domestically, in Europe and internationally.

“I know from having been in New Zealand recently how much excitement there is ahead of next year. For the All Blacks a Lions series is the ultimate test but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go and win in New Zealand.”

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