Ireland boss Andy Farrell’s involvement with the British & Irish Lions coaching team is still undecided.
On Wednesday, UK press reports indicated that Farrell is set to be part of Warren Gatland’s Lions backroom team during their eight-match tour of South Africa.
That came after the Irish Rugby Football Union’s performance boss David Nucifora said: ‘Absolutely, it’s something we have been in discussion for a long time around how that would all work whether the tours were on or off.
‘We were always open to the idea that after the tour was finished, if we had a tour, that Andy would go over and join them. We were always happy to do that, Warren was always happy to have Andy there.
‘I suppose the way it panned out he’s got the ability to be there a little earlier. It’s good for Andy, it’s good for our players that are on the Lions tour. Those things are only a positive, aren’t they?’
However, a new Telegraph report refutes the claim that the 46-year-old is set to link up with the Lions.
It is believed Farrell is reluctant to interfere and has not held formal conversations with Gatland for weeks despite the IRFU opening the door for him to do so.
Gatland initially wanted Farrell on board from the start of the tour, but Farrell made himself unavailable to concentrate on Ireland’s scheduled mid-year tour to Fiji, with Steve Tandy subsequently appointed as Lions defence coach.
However, Ireland’s three-Test tour to Fiji has since been cancelled and they will now play home Tests against Japan and the USA on 4 and 10 July, respectively. That has prompted the IRFU to agree to Farrell heading out to South Africa following the second Test, which would allow him to link up with the Lions before the Test series get under way against the Springboks on 24 July.
But while Gatland is said to also still be interested in having Farrell’s expertise on tour in South Africa, a call will not be made on his potential involvement until the tour is under way and will be contingent on the Lions’ fortunes in the warm-up matches because Farrell is reluctant to upset the applecart if the tour is going well.
If he does fly out to South Africa, it would be as a consultant to offer advice across a number of areas rather than to concentrate on defence, his main specialist area.