Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Vicks backs Gats for Lions

23rd October 2010 13:33


Phil Vickery plays with Warren Gatland

Giving his blessing: Phil Vickery

Wasps prop Phil Vickery believes that Warren Gatland would be a 'fantastic' choice as head coach of the 2013 British & Irish Lions in Australia.

The World Cup winner has thrown his support behind the Wales boss, who was assistant coach last year in South Africa, to lead the Lions when they tour Australia.

"I've done two Lions tours and I think Warren would be a fantastic candidate to do it again, and I hope he does," said the former England captain.

"He's a guy who I have the utmost respect for. He's a typical Kiwi. He's honest, sometimes brutally, but you can be honest back.

"He gets the guys together and gets the best out of people. I really hope he does it again because it's very, very special."

Gatland will be available to take charge of the Lions due to a clause in his new four-year contract that allows him timely five-month break.

The former All Blacks hooker plans to send a junior coaching team to lead Wales on their tour to Japan during that summer so that he can spend some time back in New Zealand.

But, despite insisting that the Lions did not feature in negotiations over his contract, Gatland remains one of the leading candidates to take charge in 2013 and has refused to rule out the possibility.

"For a Lions team to be successful is incredibly hard. It was a fantastic experience and an honour and a privilege to be involved with the players. To do it again? We'll just have to see," said Gatland.

"Wales have agreed that for 2013, while the Lions are touring and Wales play Japan for a couple of games, I could appoint some younger coaches which would enable me to spend four or five months back in New Zealand."

Earlier this week tour manager Andy Irvine said it was unlikely any of the home nations coaches would be considered unless they could secure at least partial release from the 2013 Six Nations.

"We'll be speaking to the WRU to see what level of commitment he must give to them as opposed to the Lions," Irvine said.

"It's theoretically possible to coach the Lions and be the head coach of a national side in the Six Nations immediately prior, but it's unlikely.

"If we weren't looking for a complete release of Warren by the WRU, then certainly a partial release."

Ian McGeechan, the Bath performance director who has been Lions head coach four times, is also a leading candidate for the job.