2013 British & Irish Lions
Lions backroom staff a work in progress
ESPN Staff
October 17, 2012
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland fields questions from the media, Ironmonger's Hall, London, September 4, 2012
Lions head coach Warren Gatland is recovering from an operation on his injured heel © Getty Images

The confirmation of the British & Irish Lions' support staff has reportedly been delayed until the end of the year as head coach Warren Gatland continues his recovery from surgery.

Gatland was unveiled as the Lions' boss last month having recovered from fracturing his heels falling from a ladder in a domestic accident but a further operation on that injury is understood to have delayed an announcement regarding his assistants for the 10-match tour to Hong Kong and Australia next year.

The Daily Mail reports that Gatland had hoped to name his coaching team ahead of the end of year internationals but his latest surgery has delayed the formal recruitment process with confirmation now expected in Edinburgh on December 13.

Speculation regarding the make-up of Gatland's support staff has been rife since his appointment. England assistant coach Graham Rowntree and Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards are expected to figure strongly having also served on the Lions' last tour in 2009.

Rob Howley, another of long-term Gatland cohort and former Lions player and coach, is another name in them mix although it is thought his aspirations with Wales have clouded the issue. Howley will take temporary charge of Wales for two of their November internationals and also for next year's Six Nations as Gatland concentrates on his Lions duties.

However, he has not yet been confirmed as Wales' coach for their tour of Japan next summer that coincides with the Lions' trip Down Under. As a result he could yet join Gatland's staff in a move that would likely see forwards coach Robin McBryde take a Wales squad stripped of its Lions to Japan.

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt is another name linked with the Lions while the choice of Edinburgh for the announcement hints that there may be a post for Scotland coach Andy Robinson.

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