Lancaster opens up about Lions tour link
INTERVIEW: Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster has spoken out for the first time about reports linking him to the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
Lancaster has quashed speculation for now that he will definitely be part of the Lions coaching ticket for their 2021 tour.
The former England coach was put in the frame as an assistant coach when Lions boss Warren Gatland mentioned last week that he had spoken to Lancaster.
It led to much speculation that the Six Nations and 2015 World Cup rival of former Wales coach Gatland will be on the management ticket for next year’s eagerly awaited trip to the home of the reigning world champions.
Lancaster, though, has nipped the hype in the bud, using Leinster’s weekly media conference to dispel the rumour that he will link up with Gatland whose Wales team dealt England a terrible blow when winning at Twickenham during the 2015 World Cup.
Speaking to Irish media, Lancaster said: “Just to clarify, I don’t think (Gatland) mentioned me as a potential Lions coach. I think he mentioned that we had a conversation which we did. I can end speculation.
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“He didn’t offer me a coaching role with the Lions, so put that one to bed. But we did catch up. Obviously, I know him well, coached England against Wales since 2012. So we did have a catch-up, but there is a long way to go on that.
“Obviously he has taken a certain coaching team before so it would be very much up to him to have those conversations, find out who is available and who would be interested in joining up with him.
“From a personal point of view, would I be interested? Of course. As a coach you want to coach at the highest level, you want to coach the best players and I don’t think it gets any higher than coaching the Lions against the current world champions, but it’s speculation for the time being.”
It was on a Sky Sports UK podcast last week that Gatland, who stepped down as Wales boss after the 2019 World Cup, revealed he had spoken to Lancaster ahead of the Lions tour.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him,” he said.
“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. So, look he’s definitely one person that I’ve spoken to.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, but there is a number of other people that I’ll be looking at and to talk to. 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.”