British & Irish Lions

Lions door open for Gatland

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:13
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We will do everything we can to support as we did in 2013
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Warren Gatland's new contract as Wales coach will not stop him from taking charge of the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have extended Gatland's contract until the World Cup in 2019, but he will still be able to lead the Lions again when they tour his native New Zealand in four years time.

The former Ireland and Wasps coach led the Lions to their first series victory since 1997 in Australia this year, and has said he would relish the challenge of taking on the All Blacks in 2017.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis explained that the terms of Gatland's contract have not changed, which means that he will be available to take charge of the Lions for a second time if he is asked to.

There is no specific clause in his contract which allows him to coach the Lions, but Lewis told the BBC that they will not stan in his way if he is given the role again.

"If the Lions want to consider Warren then we will certainly have that discussion.

"We will do everything we can to support as we did in 2013. We will do the same for 2017," he said.

Gatland has already confirmed that he is interested in taking the Lions on a second tour, but he made it clear that he still has to prove his worth.

"If I had the opportunity to be involved [with the Lions] again, that's going to be because of Wales being successful in the next couple of years.

"If my whole focus and contemplation is on Wales, then if Wales are successful, you put yourself in the frame.

"Then after that it's potentially maybe the Lions approaching you, then it's negotiating release with the WRU.

"And that's exactly what happened in 2012 before the Lions this year.

"The contract this time is exactly the same as what I had last time, so nothing's changed with regard to that," he added.

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