Gatland named as Lions coach for NZ tour

Warren Gatland will be in charge of the British and Irish Lions for next year’s tour of New Zealand after being named as head coach on Wednesday.

Gatland, 52, will relinquish his duties with Wales for a year before resuming the job he has done since 2007.

New Zealander Gatland will lead the Lions for the second time in his career having masterminded the series win over Australia four years ago.

The Lions have won only one of their 11 series against the All Blacks, in 1971, and this year’s tourists face a daunting task with a tough tour itinerary leading to the three-Test series against the world champions.

“It’ probably the biggest job in world rugby against the best opposition in world rugby,” Gatland said after being unveiled in Edinburgh.

The 10-fixture tour includes five games against Super Rugby opposition and a clash with the Maori, culminating in a three-Test series against the All Blacks.

Gatland, who was also part of Sir Ian McGeechan’s coaching team in South Africa seven years ago, is convinced the tourists can prevail against the odds.

“I know from having been in New Zealand recently how much excitement there is ahead of next year,” Gatland said.

“For the All Blacks a Lions series is the ultimate test, but I’m 100 per cent confident that we can go and win in New Zealand.”

Gatland will finalise the make-up of his own coaching team before the end of the year.

“The chance to work with the best players from the four Home Nations is a coach’s dream and we have some outstanding talent to select from,” Gatland said.

Gatland, who has won two Grand Slams with Wales, departs for New Zealand on Thursday to begin plotting the All Blacks’ downfall and will be accompanied by tour manager John Spencer.

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