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Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 07:19 UK

Lewis backs Gatland for Lions job

Wales coach Warren Gatland
The Lions have yet to make a formal approach for Gatland

Welsh Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis would give his personal backing for Wales coach Warren Gatland to go on the Lions' South Africa tour next summer.

Lewis told Scrum V: "Warren and I have agreed it would be not right for him to take on a lead role within the Lions.

"But I'd certainly be minded that if we could cross all the bridges (over another role), I think it's something I would certainly be supportive of.

"However, it would be a decision for the WRU board."

Gatland's assistants Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley are also tipped to join Lions chief Ian McGeechan on the tour, although Lewis insisted no formal approach for any senior Wales coach has been made to the WRU.

Lewis also said Gatland's personal qualities would diminish concerns based on the events that followed then-Wales coach Graham Henry's leadership of the 2001 Lions tour to Australia.

Henry's Wales reign began to crumble in the wake of that 2-1 Test series defeat as his relationship with senior Welsh players suffered.

Lewis said: "The reason I'd support it (Gatland going on the Lions tour) is because Warren is such a rounded guy - he's so together, so focused.

"We've all learned from the mistakes of the past, the mistakes of others. I think we could get it right this time."

Lewis says his first discussions with Gatland on the issue took place during the 2008 Six Nations.

The first informal talks took place last February after the Scotland game in February. Warren and I had a beer in Cardiff," said Lewis.

"Now everyone's talking about the possibility of Welsh coaches being involved in next year's Lions tour.

"There's a lot of talk and a lot of speculation. Welsh rugby should take great heart from that.

"It's a great compliment. It is all talk though - that's the key thing.

"No formal request has been put to the WRU board and the board would decide on that."

see also
McGeechan given Lions coach role
14 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Lions tour 2009
13 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
History of the Lions
02 May 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
European Challenge Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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