Gatland wants to coach 2017 Lions in New Zealand

Wales coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that he would be interested in coaching the British and Irish Lions when they tour his country of birth New Zealand in 2017.

Gatland was an assistant coach in 2009 when the Lions toured South Africa and led as head coach them to a series victory in Australia in June 2013.

The 50-year-old enjoyed a triumphant first experience as Lions coach earlier this year, when he led the tourists to a 2-1 series win in Australia.

It was the Lions’ first series win in 16 years and Gatland’s role in it saw him named UK Coach of the Year and High-Performance Coach of the Year at the 2013 UK Coaching Awards in London on Tuesday.

“It was an incredible experience. To be involved, I was humbled and privileged,” he told BBC Radio Five on Wednesday.

“For me to go to New Zealand would be a great opportunity in 2017, but there is a huge amount of water to pass under the bridge before that. For me, the focus over the next couple of years is doing well for Wales.

“And if Wales do well in the Six Nations and the (2015) World Cup, then you put yourself in the frame to hopefully be asked again.

“You never know, and if I was asked to do it again and particularly in my own country, it would be something I would relish.”

The Lions clinched the series win over Australia with a stunning 41-16 third-Test victory in Sydney, after Gatland had controversially dropped experienced Ireland centre and legend Brian O’Driscoll.

The New Zealander admitted the furore provoked by the decision had taken him by surprise.

Asked if he had been prepared for the backlash, he said: “I wasn’t.

“I think that people out in Australia weren’t aware of the almost hysteria that created, but that’s sport and you’ve got to stand by your beliefs, put your hand on your heart and sometimes make some tough decisions.”

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