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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 16:07 UK

Warren Gatland free for 2013 Lions role

Wales coach Warren Gatland
Gatland was part of McGeechan's Lions staff in 2009 in South Africa

Warren Gatland could coach the British and Irish Lions on their 2013 tour of Australia due to the option of a five-month break in his new Wales deal.

Gatland, a 2009 Lions assistant coach, has signed a four-year contract extension with the Welsh Rugby Union taking him to the 2015 World Cup.

But he has an option to allow another member of his staff to coach Wales in Japan in 2013 while the Lions tour.

On the prospect of coaching the Lions, Gatland said: "We'll just have to see."

Current Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde took charge of the national team when they toured north America in 2009.

At the same time Gatland was part of Ian McGeechan's back-up staff on the Lions tour to South Africa.

Gatland insists the Lions did not feature in negotiations over his four-year Wales extension deal and that he just wanted a chance to spend some time back in New Zealand.

It was a fantastic experience and an honour and a privilege to be involved with the players. To do it again? We'll just have to see

Warren Gatland on the 2013 Lions tour

But he would not rule out the possibility of being involved with the Lions again and 2013 Lions tour manager Andy Irvine says Gatland's availability to do so will be investigated.

Gatland said: "Part of my contract negotiations included being able to spend some time back in New Zealand.

"Wales have agreed that for 2013, while the Lions are touring and Wales play Japan for a couple of games, I could appoint some younger coaches which would enable me to spend four or five months back in New Zealand.

"For a Lions team to be successful is incredibly hard. It was a fantastic experience and an honour and a privilege to be involved with the players. To do it again? We'll just have to see."

Ex-Scotland and Lions star Irvine said: "We'll be speaking to the WRU to see what level of commitment he must give to them as opposed to the Lions.


"It's theoretically possible to coach the Lions and be the head coach of a national side in the Six Nations immediately prior, but it's unlikely.

"If we weren't looking for a complete release of Warren by the WRU, then certainly a partial release."

Bath performance director McGeechan is also again a candidate for the job, but England prop Phil Vickery has backed Gatland for the role.

He said : "I've done two Lions tours and I think Warren would be a fantastic candidate to do it again. And I hope he does. He's a guy who I have the utmost respect for.

"He's a typical Kiwi. He's honest, sometimes brutally, but you can be honest back. He gets the guys together and gets the best out of people. I really hope he does it again because it's very, very special."

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see also
McGeechan could lead 2013 Lions
19 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Sport Wales: The TV Programme
15 Mar 11 |  Wales
Gatland signs new Wales contract
18 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Lions line up match in Hong Kong
18 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 9-28 Lions
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 28-25 Lions
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 26-21 Lions
20 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union

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