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Wednesday Dec 7, 2016

Warren Gatland confirms British & Irish Lions coaching team for New Zealand tour

Rob Howley, Steve Borthwick and Andy Farrell were today announced as part of Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions coaching team that will take on the All Blacks in New Zealand in 2017. The Lions will play ten fixtures in total, and three Tests.

The management team will be announced in early January, and the trio of coaches will work with their respective countries for the Six Nations, before joining the Lions ahead of the squad announcement on April 19.

“I am excited about this coaching team. I said from the outset it was important to have continuity because we need to hit the ground running, given the limited preparation time,” said Gatland. 

“In Rob and Andy we have guys who understand the Lions concept, have worked together and know how to coach a winning Lions team. It’s also important to have some new input.

“Steve has done a great job in shaping the England pack and played a major role in their recent run of success, so I’m looking forward to working with him.

“We may look to bring in a specialist coach but, fundamentally, this is the core coaching team we believe can help a talented group of players win a Test series in New Zealand.”

Farrell, now with Ireland, was also defensive coach on the 2013 Lions tour of Australia.

“The Lions is a unique experience for players and coaches,” he said.

“To bring together the best players from four countries and go to the home of the World Champions to take them on in their own backyard – that’s pretty special.

“As a group we are going to be tested across the board against the number one ranked team in the world.  The challenge for us will be to get on the same page as quickly as possible, appreciate fully the danger they pose and find solutions to their attacking threats.”

Howley, a player in 1997 and 2001 and coach in 2009 and 2013, added: “I’m delighted and honoured to be selected as part of the coaching team for the 2017 Tour. The British & Irish Lions is at the pinnacle of international rugby. We have a responsibility to uphold its tradition and heritage, and build on the success of the 2013 Tour.

“This will be my fifth Tour with the Lions but my first to New Zealand. We are under no illusions what to expect on the field but, with the inspirational travelling support from all four Home Nations behind us, I believe it will be a memorable six weeks.

“It is a huge achievement to be selected and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working alongside the coaches and players from the other nations.

“As a coach, the experiences in 2009 and 2013 were hugely rewarding and I’d like to thank the WRU for once again supporting the role and understanding the benefits we can take forward from this opportunity.”

The Lions will play three Tests against New Zealand in June and July, aiming to improve on the 3-0 whitewash they were on the wrong end of in 2005.

2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures

    3 June – Provincial union team (Toll Stadium, Whangarei)
    7 June – Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)
    10 June – Crusaders (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)
    13 June – Highlanders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
    17 June – Maori (International Stadium, Rotorua)
    20 June – Chiefs (Waikato Stadium, Hamilton)
    24 June – New Zealand (First Test, Eden Park, Auckland)
    27 June – Hurricanes (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
    1 July – New Zealand (Second Test, Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
    8 July – New Zealand (Third Test, Eden Park, Auckland)

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