Woodward issues Gatland with 2013 Lions warning

Former British and Irish Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward has warned potential 2013 British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland about accepting the position as Lions coach.

Lions bosses will soon name the 2013 British and Irish Lions coach and Gatland is understood to be the favourite for the job.

The first Lions Test against the Wallabies will take place in one year from Friday and the Lions want their coach in place as soon as possible.

“Warren is the right man to lead the Lions out of the home nations candidates,” Woodward told Wales Online.

“He is the obvious choice and the outstanding candidate. He deserves it if he wants to do it.”

However the Wales Rugby Union have been warned about “Graham Henry syndrome” which hurt the national team after the 2001 Lions coach’s relationship with the players fell apart after the Lions tour.

2005 British and Irish Lions coach Woodward says that Gatland is the outstanding candidate for 2013 but warns that if the New Zealander takes the job it could impact on Wales’ world cup chances.

“Having done the job, I can tell you it is a different environment and I understand the role is not easy… but especially so if you are a serving national coach,” explained Woodward.

“Warren will know he will have to manage the process very carefully to stop it interfering in his day job which is coaching Wales.”

“You might not be picking Welsh players while also getting on with others you are more used to preparing to go to war with.”

“He will have to be really careful because Wales have an outstanding team and they could go the whole way through to the final in 2015.”

“You would not want anything to get in the way of that. He almost has to get the Welsh team really wanting him to coach the Lions.”

“But the players need to understand that some things could happen on the trip if things go wrong for Gatland.”

“Lions selections are even tougher if you are a national coach because you are not picking for Wales. “

“There will be Irish, English and Scottish players who will be better in some positions.

“It is tough to know what to say to a Welsh player who has not made a Lions Test or squad. “

“It is not easy because there are Welsh players who you want to take, but you know there are better players available. Unless you pick 15 Welshmen!

“But you are not there to be popular and you have to make the tough calls.”

“If the player respects you as a coach and knows you are making the decisions fairly, it should be okay.”

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