Gatland to coach 2013 British and Irish Lions

Wales coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that he will be coach of the 2013 British and Irish Lions and that the official announcement will be made early next month.

Gatland also expressed his surprise of the Wallabies poor showing against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup clash last weekend.

The New Zealander has been the favourite to be named 2013 British and Irish Lions coach for some time but he has now admitted that it is all but a done deal.

Gatland’s appointment will keep him away from Wales during the 2013 Six Nations championship but he will be in charge of them for Wales’ matches against the All Blacks and Australia in November and December.

“I go back (to Britain) on Sunday and I’ve got to go to Scotland for a couple of days planning with a couple of people from the Lions,” Gatland told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“And then there’s an announcement on September 4. “

“We still haven’t signed anything yet but it’s very close, and if I do take the position I’ll be seconded to the Lions for 10 months, but they’ve allowed me to be involved in the All Blacks Test (against Wales) for that week, and the Australian week.”

“I won’t coach the Samoa and Argentinian weeks or be involved in the Six Nations. I think that’s trying to give the position some neutrality.”

Gatland was speaking at a public engagement at Waikato University in his home town of Hamilton and when he takes the appointment he will become the second New Zealand born Wales coach to lead the Lions.

The New Zealander said that he relishes the format of the British and Irish Lions tours.

“The great thing about the tour is that it’s the old-style tour. It’s 10 games in Australia – the first game is in Hong Kong against the Barbarians, and then we play the five Super Rugby franchises and three Tests against Australia, and I think a game against NSW Country.

“It’s a great chance to mould players from four different countries together is such a short period. “

“I think we get them for about a week before we go on tour, and it’s a great experience.

“It’s difficult to do. As a concept you want the Lions to be successful.”

“After 2005, they brought two teams (to NZ) and got well beaten, and it was almost as if people were talking about getting rid of the Lions, but it does generate massive amounts to the country that is hosting the Lions. “

“The television deal is huge … (but) it’s important that the Lions in their own right are successful as an entity.”

Speaking about the Lions opposition next year Gatland said he was surprised at the Wallabies poor showing last week and said that a lack of X-factor players has left them “vulnerable”.

“I thought there were disappointing, and I was surprised with the style of game they played,” Gatland said.

“One of the things with the Wallabies is that they could have snatched it at the end … (but) I thought the All Blacks should have been 15, 20 points in front. “

“I think the Wallabies will find Eden Park really tough this weekend.”

Gatland said that he thought that a combination of injuries and selections had dulled the Wallabies’ cutting edge.

“I thought the Wallabies were a little bit vulnerable,” he said. “You need three or four X-factor players, players that can make a difference … At the moment Australia are probably lacking two or three X-factor players. “

“When Genia plays well he’s fantastic; you have someone like Quade Cooper, and they are missing (James) O’Connor. “

“Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane … you put those five together and they are a different animal, because they have got some real firepower.”

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