Gatland targets top coaches to help beat Boks
SPOTLIGHT: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland is looking to recruit some big names to help him knock over the Springboks in their 2021 tour.
And the former Wales coach has already held discussions with former England boss Stuart Lancaster about next year’s tour.
Gatland also confirmed that he is also planning talks with “a number of other people” before selecting his assistant coaches.
“I’ve spoken to Stuart [Lancaster] and we’ve had a couple of conversations,” Gatland said during Sky’s Will Greenwood podcast.
“I think you’ve got to take your hat off to Stuart. He finished with England, then he’s gone away and he’s done some professional development; gone around and looked at other sports, and then he’s taken up this role with Leinster.
“There’s definitely for him a lot of things that he would have learned from that experience.
“There’s no doubt what he’s done and the impact that he’s had since his time with Leinster. He’d say that he’s definitely improved as a coach and I have a huge amount of respect for him.
“We met before the last tour and he spoke to me about his opinions on the Leinster players and the Irish players and gave me an insight into them and I appreciated that.
“He’s definitely one person that I’ve spoken to and had a couple of conversations with him, but there’s a number of other people that I’ll be looking to talk to.
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“The first step is to get clarity from unions and the bosses and then potentially club CEOs about who is available, who isn’t available.
“If you weren’t picking someone from an international setup and you were looking at someone from a club setup, then you’ve got to look at what’s their availability in terms of that timing of the year and they’ve got club games on and you’ve got selection meetings and all those sorts of things.
“So, there’s a lot of things, a huge number of things to consider, and hopefully in the next couple of months we will be able to put all that together.”
The tour will be Gatland’s third as B&I Lions coach after a 2-1 series victory over the Wallabies in 2013 and a 1-1 draw with the All Blacks in 2017.
Gatland hinted that he might retain some of the coaches that were involved in those tours. Rob Howley (attack), Andy Farrell (defence), Steve Borthwick (forwards) and Graham Rowntree (scrum) were all involved in the last tour in New Zealand.
“One of the things that I’ve found really, really important is that, yes, you want to make a few changes and you want to bring some new faces and new voices in, but you don’t want a clean sweep,” Gatland said.
“You want to have some continuity because things happen pretty quickly, you have limited time in terms of preparation.”