Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Gatland Set for Lions Coach Role

Warren Gatland has revealed he is "very close" to agreeing a deal to become coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour of Australia next year.

The tour will take place from June 1 to July 6, forcing Gatland, who is currently in New Zealand recuperating from a fall, to set aside Six Nations duties with Wales next year.

"We still haven't signed anything yet but it's very close, and if I do take the position I'll be seconded to the Lions for 10 months," he said.

Gatland, who guided Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam this year, will return to Britain on Sunday and an announcement on the Lions' coaching role is expected to be made on September 4.

The Lions, featuring the best players from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, visit Australia once every 12 years, with the Wallabies winning the last series Down Under in 2001.

The 10-match 2013 tour begins with a clash against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, before moving to Australia, where there will be Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Gatland is relishing the opportunity to participate in an "old-style tour", which includes matches against provincial teams as well as high-profile Tests.

"It's a great chance to mould players from four different countries together in such a short period," he said. "I think we get them for about a week before we go on tour, and it's a great experience. It's difficult to do.

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