British & Irish Lions Tour 2013
Gatland eyes Lions coaching role
January 7, 2012
Warren Gatland alongside Ian McGeechan back in 2009 © Getty Images
Wales boss Warren Gatland has admitted he is keen on a role with the 2013 British & Irish Lions provided he gets the approval of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The New Zealand-born coach was part of Sir Ian McGeechan's coaching set-up during the 2009 tour to South Africa and has since led Wales to a fourth place finish in the 2011 World Cup. And due to their sparkling form and his knowledge of northern hemisphere rugby, Gatland is an early favourite to coach the Lions when they travel to Australia in 2013.
But Gatland, although keen for a role, is aware of the potential conflict with the 2013 Six Nations and admits that any involvement with the famous side would have to come with the prior approval of his boss Roger Lewis at the WRU.
"I would love to be involved with the Lions again if the opportunity came up," Gatland told Wales Online. "South Africa was a wonderful rugby experience like no other. We went back to basics with an old-fashioned philosophy in a professional manner. It was a privilege to work with coaches and players from other nations and you learn so much.
"If I was involved in the same role as I did in South Africa under Ian McGeechan, there would not be a problem because someone else is head coach and in charge. One of the things the Lions would want from a head coach would be that person available for a certain period of time. That would mean the coach was not available for the 2013 Six Nations.
"It is not just about watching the internationals because you would have to keep in touch with the club games and it is a big job. Whether I could do that I am not sure and you would have to speak to Roger Lewis. That would all depend on what was happening with Wales and that role is always going to be my main priority.
"But there is still a lot of rugby to be played before any of these decisions are made."
One player who will hope to be in the mix for the tour is Perpignan fly-half James Hook. With 59 Wales caps to his name, the 26-year-old has played an integral part in Wales' recent fortunes. But Gatland admits the Ospreys' - his former side - tendency to move Hook around the field without really settling on a position has affected his form and confidence.
"He has come out and said he did not feel quite right during the World Cup," Gatland said. "We know how good he has been in the past and he is a quality player. Sometimes you have to take things on the chin and say it was not a great World Cup for him and we need to move on.
"We will not discard him because we know what a quality player he is. The unfortunate thing for James is that he has been probably been the most stuffed around player in Wales. The Ospreys and Wales have moved him around and he is now playing with Perpignan where he has played 10, centre and fullback. Those things have always been to his detriment."
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