Australia 16-41 British & Irish Lions, 3rd Test, Sydney, July 6
Gatland open to coaching Lions in New Zealand
ESPN Staff
July 7, 2013
Lions head coach Warren Gatland shuns the limelight in Sydney, Australia v British & Irish Lions, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 6, 2013
Will Warren Gatland coach the Lions again? © Getty Images

Warren Gatland is open to the possibility of coaching the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2017.

Gatland has masterminded the Lions' first triumphant tour since 1997 after Australia were routed 41-16 in Saturday's series decider at Sydney's ANZ Stadium. The most challenging itinerary of all awaits in New Zealand in four years time and Gatland would consider returning to his homeland at the helm of the elite of British and Irish rugby.

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge before 2017. You get opportunities in life if you're part of successful environments and teams," he said. "Winning a couple of Grand Slams with Wales and reaching the semi-final of the World Cup has given me this opportunity. I'm grateful for the chance and if it came up again then it's something I might look at."

The future of the Lions was under scrutiny when they set off for Australia in May due their failure to win a series for 16 years, but toppling the Wallabies 2-1 has restored their credibility. However, Gatland would like to see changes made to the structure of the tour.

"The Lions are something that we need to preserve for the modern game. It's special and it has been a privilege for me to experience it," he said. "It's tougher than it was in South Africa four years ago because the game's becoming more and more physical.

Warraen Gatland is open to keeping the job

"It's tough to put two games together, so maybe you need a break in between games to rejuvenate yourself. It's important that the Lions and home unions get together to agree adequate preparation time.

"The season needs to be adjusted so that we can spend a couple of weeks in the UK preparing properly. The Lions need to be given the best possible chance to be successful for the future. New Zealand is harder from a logistical point of view. It wasn't until I left there that I realised what a difficult country it is to tour because getting around is more challenging."

He added: "If we'd selected Brian we'd probably have won with that performance as well. We felt it was the right rugby decision, not a sentimental decision. I spoke to Brian after the game because I know how disappointed he was, but he was part of a winning series. He played in the first two Tests and was very much a part of it."

Gatland also claimed the squad had covered themselves in glory Down Under. "We spoke to the players this morning, saying we were very proud of the way they represented the Lions jersey and their home nations," he said. "For us to go home having won the series is the icing on the cake. The series went down to the wire and that's why you're involved in professional sport - you want it to be tough and nail-biting."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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