The British & Irish Lions are facing a coaching conundrum after three of Warren Gatland’s first-choice management team members withdrew from the upcoming tour of South Africa.
Reports in England suggest that Gatland wanted Ireland’s Andy Farrell, Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick and Munster forwards coach Graham Rowntree as part of his management team.
Farrell was set to take charge of the Lions’ defence, while Borthwick would continue in his role as Lions forwards coach. All three coaches had been part of Gatland’s staff for the 2017 tour of New Zealand.
However, according to the Times, all three coaches withdrew from the Lions’ staff shortly after receiving the team’s itinerary for their tour of SA in July and August.
Farrell has decided that Ireland’s tour of the Pacific Islands in July should take precedence, while Borthwick is concerned over missing the Premiership playoffs and Leicester Tigers’ pre-season. Meanwhile, after spending the season in Ireland, Rowntree would like to return to his family in England.
On the plus side, Gatland’s team is set to be boosted by the availability of Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, who will be in charge of the Lions’ attacking structures.
It has also been reported that Scotland’s defensive mastermind, Steve Tandy, has been lined up as Farrell’s replacement, while former Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde and former Ireland international Paul O’Connell are being considered as Lions forwards coach.
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