Warren Gatland was officially unveiled as the British and Irish Lions head coach for the 2021 tour to South Africa on Wednesday. Even though he is now signing a Lions contract for the 2021 tour, The Times understands the deal does not become full-time until the summer of 2020.
The 55-year-old led the Lions to victory on their 2013 tour of Australia, with the 2017 tour of his native New Zealand finishing all-square after the decisive third Test ended in a thrilling 15-15 draw at Eden Park in Auckland.
Gatland knows first-hand the challenge posed by the Springboks, having already been part of a touring party to South Africa in 2009 as McGeechan's.
"I love the Lions as a concept", he said. "It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations".
Previously he has taken a sabbatical from his Wales duties to dedicate himself to the Lions but now he would be free from any distractions from when the World Cup ends on 2 November.
Gatland said after the last Lions tour that he was frustrated by limited time given to prepare the team and by the shortened nature of the tour.
The British & Irish Lions managing director, Ben Calveley, said: "We're delighted to have got our man; Warren is a world-class coach, boasts a proven track record, and knows the Lions better than anyone else now coaching in world rugby - so naturally he was our first-choice candidate from the start of the process".