British & Irish Lions
Gatland backs young Lions to roar again
July 8, 2013
Lions coach Warren Gatland shares a joke with tour manager Andy Irvine © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has backed his young guns to kick on from their heroics against Australia and make further history in New Zealand in 2017.
The Lions ended a 16-year wait for a series victory with a stunning 41-16 victory over the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night and Gatland is confident many of his players such as Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Alex Corbisiero, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau could all feature again in four years time.
The elite tourists have not tasted success in New Zealand since 1971 - but Gatland sees reason to for hope that their drought against the All Blacks could be broken. Asked if he thought the Lions could win in New Zealand, Gatland told PA Sport: "Yes, I think if we get things right in terms of the preparation and stuff. If you look at how young this squad is, a lot of them could be around in four years' time.
"If they are playing well enough and you have got four more years' experience on some young heads, some young shoulders and they are in their late 20s, that potentially makes the Lions squad in four years' time incredibly strong.
"You've always got to believe that when you go somewhere you go there to win. I know we talk about 2005 (New Zealand) being disappointing, and for us the motivation in 2009 (South Africa) was about respect and getting respect back for that jersey. The whole focus on this tour was about delivering the Test series win."
Gatland has already expressed an interest in returning to the Lions' hotseat in four years' time, but his immediate focus is a return to Wales. "I am committed to Wales for the World Cup,'' Gatland said.
"Now that the Lions has finished, I am really excited about potentially what Wales could achieve with the group of players that we've got, with the talent that we've got. I think we've got a chance of doing well in terms of the Six Nations and World Cups.
"After that, after 2015 I will think about my future. I may just hang up the boots and go to the beach, sit down with a glass of red wine and a cigar."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.