Gatland would benefit from British and Irish Lions stint

Wales coach Warren Gatland is the favourite to lead the Lions

Wales head coach Warren Gatland would benefit from taking a year off to coach the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2017 according to his boss.

Gatland is contracted to Wales until the end of 2019 and was on the 2009 Lions tour as an assistant and then led the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia.

“If he does get it then I think it will be good for him,” Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips told the BBC.

Phillips said that Gatland has been Wales boss “for quite a while” so a break might do him some good.

“I think it would be good for him to go away for a year, get a different perspective and have a degree of reflection and reinvention.

“I think we can turn it into a positive.”

Wales have lost 28 consecutive matches against the All Blacks who they last beat in 1953 and the New Zealanders are heavy favourites to extend that run on Saturday.

Phillips added: “It is slightly ironic at the moment that when you read the press they are questioning whether Warren is the right guy for Wales, yet on the other side of the ledger some are suggesting he is a shoo-in for the Lions job.

“What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that in New Zealand they hold Warren in massive regard.

“Warren has to get it [the Lions role] on merit.”

“He has got to get it because he believes he can do it and so do the people who select him. It isn’t just an automatic selection.”

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