Gatland hungry to settle 'unfinished business' for Lions in South Africa

Warren Gatland has agreed to become head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021

Gatland will coach the Lions for a record third successive time after leading the team to victory in Australia 2013 and earning a historic draw against New Zealand in 2017.

He was also an assistant in 2009.

"We may be playing away in the heartland of South Africa but I am confident that yet again we will have enormous support and they will feel like home games", he said.

Without Sam Warburton, who led the last two tours but who has since retired, Gatland said he would choose as captain someone respected by the entire squad and, ideally, from a successful team.

The 55-year-old steps down as Wales coach after this year's World Cup and while he has expressed an interest in taking an extended break after 11 years with the current Six Nations champions, he will be free to take up consultancy work before beginning with the Lions.

Should he achieve that feat, Gatland will be the first Lions coach to claim three unbeaten tours over the southern nations. The challenge for me as the head coach is to go undefeated in a Test series.

"I love the Lions as a concept", he said.

Gatland will relinquish his job as Wales head coach after this autumn's World Cup, then will start full-time with the Lions in August 2020.


Shortly after the tour of New Zealand, Gatland stated he was "done" with the Lions, stung by an "orchestrated campaign" of criticism from the Kiwi media. It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do as a coach in terms of planning and preparation and the scrutiny of the press is always something that's at the forefront of a Lions tour.

"But one thing of reflecting back was the hospitality we had and the atmosphere of the games was incredible".

This suggests that it will not be the same as the previous two tours for the Welsh players.

"As a player it made all the difference and now I can't wait to be part of the famous sea of red enjoying the tour of a lifetime".

Warren Gatland was today officially named as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their upcoming tour of South Africa in 2021.

"Something pretty special happened after the third drawn test", he said. I have been extremely privileged to be involved and this will be my fourth tour.

Tens of thousands of fans are likely to travel to South Africa as Lions tours have developed into a huge pilgrimage over the last 20 years or so, red-clad fans usually outnumbering home fans. "I am so thankful to be given the opportunity".

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