Warren Gatland will lead the British and Irish Lions on next summer’s tour to New Zealand
It will be his third successive tour and his second as head coach after masterminding the 2-1 series victory over Australia
The 52-year-old Kiwi will begin his sabbatical from his job as Wales boss immediately by travelling to New Zealand on Thursday
Warren Gatland will start his role as the 2017 British and Irish Lions head coach with immediate effect after he was officially installed in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
Gatland took charge of two of Wales’s autumn Tests before heading up the successful 2013 tour to Australia but this time around will be pouring all his energies into defeating the All Blacks next summer. Rob Howley will take over as Gatland’s temporary replacement, just as he did four years ago.
The Kiwi will name his support staff on December 7th.
“It’s a huge honour when you get offered probably the biggest job in world rugby against the best opposition in world rugby,” said Gatland.
The Lions have not won a series against New Zealand since 1971.
“When I was offered the position, it was definitely a ‘yes’ straightaway,” added Gatland. “To challenge yourself against the best, there is no bigger challenge.”
In recent history, internationals have been rested to keep them fresh to face the Lions in the Test series, but selector Grant Fox insists New Zealand will adopt a different approach for 2017.
“The Super Rugby sides will be loaded up with All Blacks early because there’s a bit of time from game one to the first Test,” Fox told the New Zealand Herald.
“They need to play and then as we get closer to the Tests some of those franchises will have less access to the All Blacks as we start preparing for the series.”
The tour includes five fixtures against Super Rugby sides with the Chiefs and Hurricanes completing the list, an opener against a provincial union team, a clash with the New Zealand Maori and three Tests.
“It’s a really tough tour,” Gatland has previously said. “I’m not saying the Lions can’t win, it’s just a tough schedule.”