Lions honour up for grabs - Evans
January 29, 2012
Welsh winger Ieuan Evans toured with the Lions in 1989, 1993 and 1997 © Getty Images
Wales legend Ieuan Evans believes current coach Warren Gatland's hopes of coaching the British & Irish Lions on their tour of Australia in 2013 rest with his players.
Gatland, who served as an assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan on the Lions' tour to South Africa in 2009, is considered by many as favourite to take charge of the elite tourists for their latest trip Down Under but Evans, a veteran of three tours as a player, insists nothing should be taken for granted.
Scotland boss Andy Robinson, who has toured with the Lions both as a player and a coach, and his Ireland counterpart Declan Kidney will also have one eye on the Lions vacancy with this year's Six Nations set to be a key proving ground. McGeechan's name is also set to enter the equation once again before a final decision is made in April/May.
"All the coaches, whether it is Declan Kidney, Andy Robinson or Warren Gatland will be aware of the fact that they are in the shop window in this tournament," Evans told ESPNscrum. "I think Warren Gatland will expect, if Wales are successful, that he will be in with a great chance of getting that opportunity but so will Declan Kidney and Andy Robinson. It's just a case of seeing how things go. It [the Six Nations] will clearly be one of the elements on which the decision is eventually made will be made by the British & Irish Lions Committee."
Wales' performance at the recent Rugby World Cup where they were the most successful of the Home Nations, losing out to France in a dramatic semi-final, will have boosted Gatland's Lions chances significantly but Evans believes that impressive showing will count for little should his side fail to follow it up in the Six Nations.
"I think Warren Gatland is in a fairly strong position at the moment having been part of the coaching team on the last tour to South Africa but it will all be dependent on how successful Wales are in this tournament," explained Evans. "It will have a big bearing on things because that will also impact on how many players from the various countries are likely to be part of the Lions. The journey really starts here."
However, Evans hinted that the strength of Gatland's support staff may well work in his favour with the Lions coach set to be asked to relinquish their national duties for the year leading up to the tour. "Whoever goes will leave that international side without a head coach for a year - that's the agreement at the moment. So you better have a strong back up team to take over for that season."
Ieuan Evans was talking on behalf of the RBS RugbyForce, a community programme which helps clubs improve facilities and provides guidance to make clubs more sustainable. For more information or to register your club for the RBS RugbyForce weekend on 2nd 3rd June, visit www.rbs.com/rugbyforce.
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