Saturday 10 December 2016

Warren Gatland says he could bring in Ireland coach Joe Schmidt for Lions role

Published 09/11/2016 | 10:16

Warren Gatland has said there could be a Lions role for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Warren Gatland has said there could be a Lions role for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Warren Gatland has admitted he could hand Joe Schmidt a coaching role with the Lions next year.

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In an interview with the Daily Mail, Lions boss Gatland said he will be putting his back-room team in place "in the next few weeks" and spoke of his respect for Ireland head coach Schmidt following his side's historic win over the All Blacks in Chicago last Saturday night.

Ireland defensive coach Andy Farrell is another potential target for Gatland who added that Ireland's win over the All Blacks will give the Lions a psychological boost ahead of next year's Tour.

Speaking about Schmidt, Gatland told the Mail: "There’s an opportunity there as well. Joe has been absolutely fantastic for Clermont, Leinster and now Ireland.

"Achieving that result last weekend was brilliant. There was uncertainty a while ago about what he was doing, but now he has made that commitment to Ireland until the next World Cup, so there is potential there."

Gatland admitted that Ireland's heroics can benefit the Lions when they face New Zealand during next year's Tour.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, and Rob Kearney celebrate victory
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, and Rob Kearney celebrate victory

"From a Lions perspective, we’ve got a group of players who’ve got the monkey off their backs and done it," added Gatland.

"I’ve said that players shouldn’t get on the plane unless they will go to New Zealand believing they can win. Now, there are a group of players who have done that.

"The All Blacks came back in the second half and I was thinking, 'Uh oh, here we go'. But Ireland’s resolve was great, they continued to pressurise and you started to see balls going to ground as the All Black players were in unfamiliar territory. As coaches, we are always trying to deliver that message; that sometimes there is vulnerability, if you put them under pressure.

"It definitely has an impact, just like that victory England had against New Zealand a few years ago. It is about overcoming that first hurdle and when that has happened, it can become a habit, so it is brilliant now that a number of players who could potentially go on the (Lions) tour have experienced that; beating the All Blacks."

When it was put to Gatland that Farrell was certain to be a part of the Lions back-room team, he laughed: "We’ll wait and see. He is someone who achieved a huge amount as a player, for Wigan and Great Britain. When he speaks to the players, he brings out a lot of those experiences he had in the past, and that has an impact. It often hits the right note and he delivers really well to the squad."

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