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What Gatland said when asked does he want to coach the 2025 Lions

By Liam Heagney

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Warren Gatland admitted he hasn’t yet thought about coaching the 2025 Lions tour to Australia but he claimed the 14 days he will have to spend in isolation when he arrived back in New Zealand from South Africa will provide him will ample time to reflect on what unfolded in recent weekend versus the Springboks in a three-match Test series that was lost 2-1 after an agonising 19-16 defeat on Saturday in Cape Town.

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Gatland flies out of South Africa on Sunday disappointed after Springboks sub Morne Steyn had the decisive say off the kicking tee in the series, just as he did twelve years ago when the Lions were previously defeated. The Kiwi was an assistant coach on that 2009 trip under Ian McGeechan and he had guided the Lions to a series win in Australia and a 2017 series draw in New Zealand prior to taking charge of the class of 2021 in South Africa.

Ex-Wales boss Gatland took on his Lions role on this occasion thanks to a year’s leave of absence from the Super Rugby Chiefs and while he will return to that club work in Hamilton in 2022, he outlined that he isn’t sure what the future holds for him and whether he might be a candidate to be a four-time Lions head coach when they tour Australia in 2025.  

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“It’s something I will reflect on,” he said from Cape Town when attending his final virtual media briefing at the 2021 Lions head coach. “I’m incredibly proud of my involvement. I have been very, very fortunate. I am very passionate about the Lions. I fly back to New Zealand tomorrow and will start thinking about my role back with the Chiefs. 

“I have a long flight and then 14 days isolation in a hotel so it’s the least of what I am looking forward to doing and it’s going to be tough having been in isolation already for the last eight weeks and another challenging couple of weeks ahead. That time on my own will be a good chance to think about what the next chapter of my life is going to be. I’m not someone who plans too far ahead.

“I’m a great believer in what will be will be and other things will be on the horizon hopefully in the future and other opportunities. What they will be I am not sure. I definitely haven’t got any long term plans and it is a wait and see. The thing about Lions tours is they are so intense, not just for the players but all the staff and everyone needs a little bit of a break to refresh and to clear their minds and then start thinking what happens next.”

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The one thing Gatland hopes will materialise for the Lions when they next tour is that a more accommodating will allow them a two-week preparation with their entire squad before they fly to the southern hemisphere. The Lions gathering was staggered in 2021. Gatland was left waiting until week two of training for his Saracens, Bristol, Sale and Racing players to arrive, and it wasn’t until the day of their flight to South Africa that their Exeter contingent joined up due to their involvement in the Gallagher Premiership final.

“The Lions continually need to go and talk to the clubs and the unions. There is a lot of expectation putting a team together in a short space of time to win a series so as the Lions putting together the best players from the northern hemisphere we get less preparation than the national teams do when they go on their own tours. 

“It’s a common theme, I have been continually saying it and hopefully within the next six months that they can iron that out and we can get the schedule for four years tidied up in terms of when finals are on so that you can get the whole squad together for a couple of weeks before you go on tour and that would significantly make a lot of difference in helping preparation.”

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What Gatland said when asked does he want to coach the 2025 Lions

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