Friday 20 October 2017

Gatland excited about Lions future

Warren Gatland is excited about the future of the Lions and Wales
Warren Gatland is excited about the future of the Lions and Wales

Warren Gatland believes the British and Irish Lions could be equipped with "an incredibly strong squad" for the formidable challenge of tackling New Zealand in four years' time.

It is 42 years since the Lions won a Test series in All Blacks country, but they might travel with optimism when 2017 comes around. Not only did the current Lions triumph at Australia's expense, they achieved it with a crop of young players - stars like Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Alex Corbisiero, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

Asked if he thought the Lions could prevail in 2017, current Lions boss Gatland said: "Yes, I think if we get things right in terms of the preparation and stuff."

Gatland went on: "If you look at how young this squad is, a lot of them could be around in four years' time. If they are playing well enough and you have got four more years' experience on some young heads, some young shoulders and they are in their late 20s, that potentially makes the Lions squad in four years' time incredibly strong.

"That is something to be excited about. The amount of interest it has created, I am sure the sponsors are pretty happy and the people who are involved in negotiating things for the future of the Lions. You've always got to believe that when you go somewhere you go there to win.

"I know we talk about 2005 (New Zealand) being disappointing, and for us the motivation in 2009 (South Africa) was about respect and getting respect back for that jersey. The whole focus on this tour was about delivering the Test series win."

Gatland, meanwhile, underlined his existing commitment to Wales, which will see him take them through to World Cup 2015 in England. At the last tournament, Wales were beaten semi-finalists.

"I am committed to Wales for the World Cup," he said.

"Now that the Lions has finished, I am really excited about potentially what Wales could achieve with the group of players that we've got, with the talent that we've got.

"I think we've got a chance of doing well in terms of the Six Nations and World Cups. After that, after 2015 I will think about my future. I may just hang up the boots and go to the beach, sit down with a glass of red wine and a cigar."

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