Monday 29 May 2017

Warren Gatland announces two new additions to his Lions coaching ticket

Graham Rowntree, pictured, joins Neil Jenkins on the Lions tour.
Graham Rowntree, pictured, joins Neil Jenkins on the Lions tour.

Jack O'Toole

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins and Harlequins forwards coach Graham Rowntree will join Warren Gatland’s coaching ticket for this summer’s British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Jenkins and Rowntree return to the Lions setup from the successful 2013 tour of Australia, and Gatland said that he believes the duo will be able to once again provide “invaluable experience” after being a part of eight combined tours between them.

"We all know what Neil and Graham bring - a huge amount of knowledge, experience and expertise at club, international and eight Lions Tours between them,” Gatland said of the duo’s appointment.

“They understand what it will take to win in New Zealand and to have them on board again is positive.

"I know Graham and Steve will complement each other and Neil will give us valuable backs and skills support. Given the schedule, with two games a week, having six coaches will allow us to devote enough time to ensuring we are successful.

"I believe we have a coaching team that will get the best out of what will be a highly talented and motivated group of players capable of winning the Test series."

This will be Jenkins third tour as a coach and the Welsh assistant claims that he is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the world champion All Blacks.

"It is a huge honour to be asked to be part of the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour. The Lions is a special and unique side and I am fortunate to be heading on my fifth Tour.

"I am excited to be joining up with a very experienced, successful coaching team for what is going to be a huge challenge against the World Champions.

"I have experienced two series wins, most recently in 2013 and I'm looking forward to getting out on the training pitch and preparing for the challenge this summer."

Rowntree was a tourist on the Lions last tour of New Zealand in 2005, a 3-0 whitewash in which the Lions were outscored 107-40 over three tests.

The Harlequins assistant has had better experiences as a coach on tour, but knows how difficult it can be as both a player and now as a coach.

"I am honoured to be asked to tour with the British & Irish Lions again and I really am thankful to Harlequins, John Kingston and David Ellis for allowing me to go.

"Having experienced the highs and the lows of the Lions as a player and a coach, I know how special it is. This year will be the ultimate challenge considering the form that New Zealand have been in across the last decade, but looking at the talent and potential in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to do something incredible.

"I am grateful and excited for the opportunity ahead, but my attention will firmly remain on Harlequins until the conclusion of our season."

Rowntree and Jenkins will join Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell, Rob Howley and Gatland to round out the Lions coaching staff.

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