Gatland: Difficult to turn down Lions job


Warren Gatland said he would find it "difficult to turn down" the chance to coach the British and Lions against New Zealand next year.

The Wales coach inspired the Lions to a series victory in Australia three years ago and has been installed as favourite for the tour of his homeland in 2017.

Gatland concded the opportunity may be too good to refuse, but joked that Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt would be welcome to take on the challenge, with a tricky itinerary on the cards.

"He can have the job if he wants it!" Gatland said at the Six Nations launch.

"Have you seen the schedule? He can have it. It's a really tough tour. I'm not saying the Lions can't win, it's just a tough schedule.

"It's the hardest place in the world to go and play, from a travel and organisation perspective as well as the rugby perspective.

"It's not un-winnable, but it's a very, very tough schedule.

"The team has an away dinner on the Sunday, fly on the Monday, arrive on the Wednesday and your first game's on the Saturday. Then you're playing a Test match two weeks later. So it's very tough.

"If I got offered it again it would be difficult to turn down. But if you weren't involved and didn't get it you may think 'thank my lucky stars' and go and enjoy it as a spectator."

Schmidt was also asked about the Lions role at the Six Nations launch and the New Zealander stated that his contract - which expires next year - would not allow him to take job. 

"The Lions doesn't enter my mind. We are a week to week team and that's a long time away. It's not something I think about," he said.

"We're about being the best we can be. That's our full focus for players and coaches. The Lions is actually a moot point. It's not something I can do unless the terms of my contract change.

"There are some outside influences on that which would dictate things. I don't plan on beyond my current contract. Sometimes as a coach you don't get beyond your current contract."