The new British & Irish Lions coaching staff share their thoughts on the opportunity to get involved in the 2021 tour of South Africa and facing the Springboks.
GREGOR TOWNSEND (Attack)
Townsend will take charge of the Lions’ attack. This will be the first time the former Scotland flyhalf will have been part of a Lions coaching team, having previously toured South Africa triumphantly as a player in 1997.
‘To be involved as a player and now as a coach is truly humbling,’ commented Townsend.
‘The Springboks are a formidable opponent on home turf, but looking at the talent in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to do something special.
‘One of the great challenges of a Lions tour is to bring together players from four different countries, in a short space of time, and create an attacking threat that will cause the opposition problems. It’s something I am already looking forward to.’
STEVE TANDY (Defence)
Meanwhile, Tandy – part of Townsend’s Scotland coaching set-up – will be responsible for the Lions’ defence.
‘To take on the World Champions in their own backyard is a massive test and one I am really looking forward to being part of,’ commented Tandy.
‘There have been some brilliant Lions defence coaches in the past – Andy Farrell, Shaun Edwards and Phil Larder – so it’s a huge honour to be chosen.
‘From a defence perspective, we need to make sure we get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible.
‘I am sure Gregor and I will benefit greatly from this experience and gain valuable knowledge about the Springboks ahead of the Rugby World Cup in two years’ time.’
ROBIN MCBRYDE (Forwards)
Former Wales assistant coach McBryde, now an assistant coach at PRO14 club Leinster Rugby, will take responsibility of the forwards.
‘I am very much looking forward to linking up with Warren and being part of his coaching group again,’ said McBryde.
‘We’ve seen some excellent rugby in the Six Nations recently with some standout performances by players from the four Home Nations – especially some of the forwards. That’s really positive for the Lions.
‘South African rugby is known for its physicality, so we’ll be under no illusions of what to expect when we arrive. The challenge for us will be to come together quickly and be physical and uncompromising in the way we play.
‘I am grateful and excited for the opportunity ahead, but my focus will remain with Leinster until the end of the season and I’m incredibly grateful to them for allowing me to tour.’
NEIL JENKINS (Kicking)
Wales kicking coach Jenkins will look after the kickers. This will be his sixth tour as both a player and coach.
‘The Lions is a unique experience for players and coaches,’ said Jenkins.
‘To bring together the best players from four countries and take on the Springboks in their own backyard is very exciting. To do it with one of my Lions teammates from 24 years ago is incredibly special for me.’
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