British & Irish Lions
Gatland confirms Lions coaching team
ESPN Staff
December 12, 2012
Lions boss Warren Gatland stands alongside his backroom staff for the 2013 tour, Edinburgh, Scotland, December 12, 2012
Warren Gatland stands alongside his coaching team for the 2013 tour © Getty Images

Comment by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • With painfully little time to prepare his squad for the challenge of the Wallabies and a testing schedule ahead of the eagerly-awaited Test series, Warren Gatland is under immense pressure to conjure a winning blend and team spirit both on and off the field.
  • With that in mind, he has turned to coaches with a clear ability to not only bring out the best performances from those players the Home Nations have at their disposal but also instil the kind of confidence, belief and mental strength that will be required to navigate what is set to be a gruelling 10-match, six-week tour.
  • Continuity from a 2009 tour heralded as a welcome return to many Lions traditions was always going to be key to reproducing that feel-good factor with Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley charged with re-fuelling those fires but Andy Farrell's impact as a coach and motivational force within the England set-up could not be igonored.
  • Gatland's decision to break up his decade-long double act with Shaun Edwards will not have been easy but having seen the Home Nations, including his own Wales side, struggle to bloody Australia's nose in recent months he has had to make a difficult choice in order to keep the Wallabies guessing while also adding some fresh impetus into the Lions' coaching armoury.

Warren Gatland has confirmed his backroom staff for the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour of Australia and as reported, there is no place for Shaun Edwards.

Lions head coach Gatland has named England duo Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell and Wales' Rob Howley as his assistants for the three-Test tour next summer. The decision will come as a big blow to Edwards who has worked with Gatland for the past decade, first at London Wasps and then with Wales.

Edwards was head coach at Wasps during Gatland's time as director of rugby from 2002 to 2005 and has been Wales' defence coach under the Kiwi since 2008, during which time the pair have helped Wales win two Six Nations Grand Slams.

He was widely tipped to go to Australia as the Lions' defensive coach when Gatland was originally appointed to the role in September, given his closeness to the Kiwi and his role with the Lions in South Africa in 2009. But Gatland has opted to hand the defensive responsibilities on tour to Farrell, who has impressed as part of Stuart Lancaster's coaching team during this year's Six Nations and England's recent autumn internationals.

And Farrell will be joined on the tour by former England prop Rowntree. It will be Rowntree's second tour as a coach after he travelled to South Africa in 2009 and he also played in the 2005 tour to New Zealand. He has been part of the England set-up since 2007 and is likely to be involved with either the scrum or the forwards side of coaching.

The duo are joined by Howley in Gatland's trio of support staff. He too was part of the 2009 coaching group and he played on the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours. He has overseen six matches as caretaker coach of Wales and has seen his charges slump to five losses. But Gatland seemingly has faith in the 42-year-old and he looks set to be responsible for Lions' attack next summer.

And Gatland was pleased to confirm his backroom staff and also hinted that there could be further appointments in the future. "I am delighted with today's appointments and confident that Rob, Graham, Andy and myself can come together quickly to face one of the hardest rugby challenges," Gatland said. "Lions tours are unique as we have to mould together players from four countries in an incredibly short space of time.

"We have no illusion as to the hard work required but we have spoken of the challenges and truly believe that as a coaching team we can provide the players with the support and environment needed for victory in Australia. We will also discuss over the coming weeks the requirement for any further technical assistance."

Elsewhere Gatland has confirmed Wales' Adam Beard as his head of strength and conditioning and England's Paul Stridgeon as fitness coach. Dr James Robson will preside over his six Lions tour as their head of medical while former Wasps physiotherapist and the current head of medical for Wales Prav Mathema also travels alongside England's Phil Pask.

The tour will be managed by Andy Irvine, who played on the 1974, 1977 and 1980 tours, and he added: "Today is an exciting day and the next chapter in the 2013 tour story. The selection of the coaching staff is significant, this experienced trio have proven track records and we are delighted to have them on board. Importantly I believe we now have in the tour management team, in the areas of coaching, logistics, media, performance analysis and medical, continuity from previous tours, especially 2009.

"This is important as they all understand the challenges that lie ahead and the experience gained in South Africa will be essential as we head to Australia next year."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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