Lions boss Gatland fires back at Jones

Warren Gatland has ruled himself out of becoming the next England head coach

Warren Gatland has ruled himself out of becoming the next England head coach

Jones is contracted until 2021 with the original plan that he would mentor his successor for two years but it seems increasingly likely that the Australian will depart after this year's World Cup.

"I'm hugely honored and delighted to lead the Lions again", Gatland said at the announcement at a London hotel.

"I think my coaching path's going to take a different direction".

He is also now the longest-serving worldwide rugby coach in the world, and since his appointment in 2008 Wales have won three Grand Slams and a further Six Nations title, as well as twice reaching the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup.

"I finish with Wales and then the whole focus is on the Lions. The focus is then on the Lions and then my plan then is to go back to New Zealand and hopefully if there is an opportunity for some Super Rugby - that's where I see my pathway at the moment". "I have no doubt that was an orchestrated campaign from the start to try to unsettle me". That wasn't the case and that really threw me and it definitely took the gloss off that aspect of the tour.

"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", said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

"But the Lions as a whole, when I thought about it: the hospitality in New Zealand was wonderful, the atmosphere at the games and the fans were incredible".

He was an assistant to Ian McGeechan when the Lions last toured South Africa, losing the 2009 series 2-1.

The British and Irish Lions will play a three-match test series against the Springboks.

The 55-year-old will lead the Lions for the third consecutive tour, after winning the 2013 series in Australia and drawing with New Zealand in 2017.

"We may be playing away in the heartland of South Africa but I am confident that yet again we will have enormous support and they will feel like home games", he said. The challenges, ironically, aren't with the southern hemisphere.

And now he hopes he can receive as much help from the Northern Hemisphere as the south.

Should Gatland avoid defeat, he would create Lions history by becoming the first person to lead tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and remain unbeaten. Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us - playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

"So there is no doubt we have to find a place for the Lions, it's too important to let go".

"The challenge is to work with our partners, who are the PRO14 and PRL at the moment, to make sure that relationship is positive to enable us to be successful".

"We have to keep fighting for our preparation, enough time together to give ourselves the best opportunities to be successful".

Latest News