Lions coach Warren Gatland: We have a responsibility to build on the success of the 2013 tour

Lions coach Warren Gatland:  We have a responsibility to build on the success of the 2013 tour
Warren Gatland (second left) with members of his coaching staff Steve Borthwick (left), Rob Howley and Andy Farrell (right) following a press conference to announce the 2017 British and Irish Lions coaching staff at Carton House, Dublin.

Warren Gatland says he is "absolutely delighted" with the quality of his British and Irish Lions coaching team for next summer's tour to New Zealand.

As had been widely expected, England forwards coach Steve Borthwick, Ireland defence specialist Andy Farrell and current Wales interim head coach Rob Howley will join Lions chief Gatland on the 10-match trip.

Confirmation of the trio came at a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday, with Farrell and Howley returning for another Lions expedition after working with New Zealander Gatland during the successful 2013 Australia tour.

Ex-England skipper and current Red Rose forwards coach Borthwick is a Lions newcomer, but he has made a considerable impression during England's spectacular unbeaten revival under their Australian head coach Eddie Jones.

Former England assistant coach Farrell was appointed as Ireland defence coach earlier this year, and he helped oversee a first away victory over South Africa, followed by a stunning success against world champions New Zealand in Chicago before a memorable autumn campaign which concluded with a win over Australia.

Attack specialist Howley, who is currently Wales boss while Gatland concentrates on Lions business this season, makes his third successive Lions tour as a coach, while he also travelled as a player in 1997 and 2001.

Gatland has not ruled out making further coaching appointments- the likes of former England and Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan and Saracens rugby director Mark McCall have both been linked with roles - but he describes the trio as his "core coaching team".

Gatland said: "Over the next couple of months we want to add some specialist people to the coaching set-up.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the quality we've got here at the moment. There's no rush specifically at the moment. We're just making sure we speak to the right people.

"I am excited about this coaching team.

"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."

The trio will work with their respective countries for the RBS 6 Nations Championship in February and March before joining the Lions ahead of the squad announcement on April 19. The Lions management team will be announced in early January.

Farrell added: "I can't wait to get going. If you look at the recent games, northern hemisphere rugby is in a great place.

"We are going to have a headache after the Six Nations because there are going to be some top, top players out there that are going to be disappointed that they are not going to go on the tour. It's a super-exciting time for northern hemisphere rugby. Let's get it started.

"As a group, we are going to be tested across the board against the number one-ranked team in the world.

"The challenge for us will be to get on the same page as quickly as possible, appreciate fully the danger they pose and find solutions to their attacking threats."

Borthwick, who won 57 England caps and made almost 400 appearances for Bath and Saracens, worked with Jones during Japan's memorable 2015 World Cup campaign that included them defeating South Africa, before joining him again last December after Jones was appointed England boss.

England went unbeaten in 2016, claiming the Six Nations title in Grand Slam fashion, beating Australia three times Down Under and then winning all four autumn Tests.

"There have been some fantastic Lions forwards coaches in the past - Jim Telfer, Andy Robinson, Warren himself, Graham Rowntree - and it's a real privilege to be chosen. It's a brilliant challenge," he said.

Howley, meanwhile, believes that Ireland's recent victory over New Zealand set a stirring example for the Lions.

"The intent and ambition will have to be there," he said.

"Ireland showed the way by scoring 40 points and five tries in Chicago, and that is going to be the challenge.

"As players, in the autumn series you put down a marker, and then in the pressure of a Six Nations, it is there for them to grasp, put their hands up and put themselves in the shop window.

"The British and Irish Lions is at the pinnacle of international rugby. We have a responsibility to uphold its tradition and heritage, and build on the success of the 2013 tour."

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