Edinburgh - Warren Gatland believes his British and Irish Lions can trump their
series win under him in 2013 and defeat world champions New Zealand in
their three-Test series next year after being appointed head coach on
The 52-year-old Wales coach - who guided the Lions to a
2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 - faces a monumental task in
overcoming his fellow New Zealanders as the Lions have won just one
series in New Zealand, back in 1971.
However, Gatland, who was
also part of the coaching set-up under Ian McGeechan in the Lions tour
of South Africa seven years ago, said unlike most people he fancied the
Lions chances of emulating John Dawes' 1971 vintage and beating the All
"For the All Blacks a Lions series is the ultimate test,
but I'm 100 percent confident that we can go and win in New Zealand,"
said Gatland, who had the misfortune to be a hooker when the legendary
Sean Fitzpatrick was the undisputed number one choice for the All Blacks
and as a result was never capped.
Gatland, who has a woeful
record as Wales coach against the southern Hemisphere sides winning just
two out of 33 Tests since he took the reins in 2008, will finalise his
coaching team by the end of the year and he was positively purring at
the thought of once again taking charge of the best talent from the four
"The chance to work with the best players from the
four Home Nations is a coach's dream and we have some outstanding talent
to select from," said Gatland, who has guided Wales to two Six Nations
"Likewise, there are some outstanding coaches who could potentially be involved and we'll look to announce them in December.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how they and the players get on domestically, in Europe and internationally."
received the stamp of approval from tour manager John Spencer, who will
accompany the coach on a trip to New Zealand on Thursday.
international track record speaks for itself and he also understands the
essence of the Lions and how to unite four nations in one purpose,"
"Warren is acutely aware of the challenges we will
face in New Zealand and we're confident he's the right man to lead us to
a series victory."
With the contracts of Ireland coach Joe
Schmidt and England's Eddie Jones not allowing for secondment to the
Lions, officials appeared to have opted for Gatland over Scotland's Vern
Cotter without much hesitation.
Gatland will be at the helm for
the toughest assignment in the game with a three-Test series against the
All Blacks the culmination of a 10-fixture tour that includes five
games against Super Rugby opposition and a clash with the Maori.
Adding to his problems is a fixture pile-up domestically.
Lions' first match in New Zealand takes place early in June, just a
week after the English Premiership and Celtic League finals.
many potential squad members set to be involved in those matches, the
Lions coach will have reduced preparation time with key players prior to
Mark McCall, director of rugby at English Premiership
champions Saracens, has labelled the Lions' schedule "ludicrous" and
concerns over their fixture programme are compounded by the knowledge
they will be up against a superb All Blacks team, even by the exacting
standards of New Zealand rugby union.
Match schedule for the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand:
June 3: v Provincial Union team (Whangarei)
June 7: v Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)
June 10: v Crusaders (Christchurch)
June 13: v Highlanders (Dunedin)
June 17: v Maori (Rotorua)
June 20: v Chiefs (Hamilton)
June 24: v NEW ZEALAND, 1st Test (Eden Park, Auckland)
June 27: v Hurricanes (Wellington)
July 1: v NEW ZEALAND, 2nd Test (Wellington)
July 8: v NEW ZEALAND, 3rd Test (Eden Park, Auckland)