London - Andy
Farrell, Steve Borthwick and Rob Howley will be Warren Gatland's
specialist coaches for the daunting British and Irish Lions tour of
world champions New Zealand, it was announced on Wednesday.
All three were widely touted to be named, especially after Ireland
head coach Joe Schmidt and future Scotland national handler Gregor
Townsend said they wished not to be considered.
Gatland, who has been replaced on a temporary basis by Howley as
Wales head coach whilst he prepares for the tour, said the trio were his
'core coaching team' though he might add one more to the roster.
"I am excited about this coaching team," said Gatland, who guided the Lions to a series win over Australia in 2013.
"I said from the outset it was important to have continuity because
we need to hit the ground running, given the limited preparation time.
"In Rob and Andy, we have guys who understand the Lions concept, have
worked together and know how to coach a winning Lions team.
"It's also important to have some new input. Steve has done a great
job in shaping the England pack and played a major role in their recent
run of success, so I am looking forward to working with him."
Ireland defence strategist Farrell, 41, filled that role on the
Australia tour and has boosted his reputation as since joining the Irish
after this year's Six Nations they have beaten all three of the
Southern Hemisphere heavyweights - the first team from the Northern
Hemisphere to achieve that in a calendar year since England in 2003.
Howley, 46, has been a trusted lieutenant of Gatland's since being
hired as Wales attack coach when the New Zealander took over the
national coach role in 2008.
Former England captain Borthwick's stock rose on the back of Japan's
impressive World Cup campaign last year when he was the forwards coach
- which included a victory over two-time world champions South Africa.
The 37-year-old former lock moved to the England set-up when former
'Brave Blossoms' boss Eddie Jones took over the reins after the
departure of Stuart Lancaster - under whom Farrell was defence coach -
following a first round World Cup exit.
Jones, with Borthwick in tow, has since seen the revitalised England team win 14 Tests in a row.
The size of the task facing the Lions is that they are bidding to
record just their second series win against Gatland's native New Zealand
- Carwyn James's side in 1971 being the benchmark for them.
The three-Test series against the All Blacks will be the culmination
of a 10-fixture tour that includes five games against Super Rugby
opposition and a clash with the Maoris.
Adding to his problems is a fixture pile-up domestically.
The Lions' first match in New Zealand takes place early in June, just
a week after the English Premiership and Celtic League finals.