Updated: Wednesday, 04 December 2013 19:13 | By Agence France-Presse

Gatland open to coaching Lions in New Zealand

Wales coach Warren Gatland says that he would be interested in coaching the British and Irish Lions for a second time when they tour his native New Zealand in 2017.


Gatland open to coaching Lions in New Zealand

British PM David Cameron (R) with a Lions shirt presented to him with head coach Warren Gatland (L), tour manager Andy Irvine (2L) and captain Sam Warburton at a reception for the British Lions at 10 Downing Street in London on September 16, 2013

The 50-year-old enjoyed a triumphant first experience as Lions coach earlier this year, when he led the tourists to a 2-1 series win in Australia.

It was the Lions' first series win in 16 years and Gatland's role in it saw him named UK Coach of the Year and High-Performance Coach of the Year at the 2013 UK Coaching Awards in London on Tuesday.

"It was an incredible experience. To be involved, I was humbled and privileged," he told BBC Radio Five on Wednesday.

"For me to go to New Zealand would be a great opportunity in 2017, but there is a huge amount of water to pass under the bridge before that. For me, the focus over the next couple of years is doing well for Wales.

"And if Wales do well in the Six Nations and the (2015) World Cup, then you put yourself in the frame to hopefully be asked again.

"You never know, and if I was asked to do it again and particularly in my own country, it would be something I would relish."

The Lions clinched the series win over Australia with a stunning 41-16 third-Test victory in Sydney, after Gatland had controversially dropped experienced Ireland centre and legend Brian O'Driscoll.

The New Zealander admitted the furore provoked by the decision had taken him by surprise.

Asked if he had been prepared for the backlash, he said: "I wasn't.

"I think that people out in Australia weren't aware of the almost hysteria that created, but that's sport and you've got to stand by your beliefs, put your hand on your heart and sometimes make some tough decisions."

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