Gatland wary over 'very tough' Lions schedule

Wed, Jan 27, 2016, Posted by   print

2007 World Cup

4:20 PM GMT

Wales coach Warren Gatland said the schedule for the forthcoming British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is so tough that he would think twice before accepting the honour – but admitted it would be “difficult” to turn the job down.

Gatland has questioned the scheduling which sees the Lions play their first match just a week after the Aviva Premiership and Guinness PRO12 finals, on a 10-match tour that includes five matches against the Super Rugby sides and three Tests against the reigning world champions.

The Lions have not won a Test series there since 1971 and though Gatland is seen as one of the two front-runners for the post alongside Ireland’s Joe Schmidt, he joked Schmidt can have the gig such is the rigorous schedule. The identity of the next Lions coach is far from straightforward as Schmidt’s contract with the IRFU prevents him taking the recommended yearlong sabbatical in the run-up, while Gatland has his own reservations.

“He can have the job if he wants,” Gatland joked at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations. “Have you seen the schedule? Going to New Zealand and you play three Tests, five Super Rugby teams and the New Zealand Maori, and you try and win there? With no preparation? He can have it.

“It’s a really tough tour. I’m not saying the Lions can’t win. It’s a tough schedule. It’s the hardest place in the world to play, not just from a rugby perspective but a travel and organisation perspective. Look, it’s not unwinnable but it is very, very tough.”

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