Gatland: ‘Schmidt can have Lions job!’

Date published: January 27 2016

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has jokingly suggested that Ireland boss Joe Schmidt can have the British and Irish Lions job if wants it.

Discussing the logisitics of the tour next year, which includes three Tests, matches against all the Super Rugby franchises and a game with the New Zealand Maori, Gatland emphasised the enormous challenge of such a tour.

Gatland, who guided the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013, was speaking at the launch of the 2016 Six Nations in London on Wednesday.

"[Schmidt] can have the job if he wants it!" joked Gatland.

"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," said Gatland, who led the Lions to a series victory in Australia in 2013.

"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 earlier on stated that even if he wanted to the role, the current terms of his contract would not allow him to take charge fo the side.

Schmidt's contract with Ireland currently is set to expire around the same time as the Lions tour in 2017.

"To be honest the terms of my current contract don't allow me to do the Lions, so it's actually a moot point," he said.

"It doesn't distract me because it isn't actually something I can do unless the terms of my contract change. I finish at that time and there's some outside influences on that that will probably dictate anything beyond that.

"So I'm not planning for beyond where my contract finishes and to be honest, if you're a coach sometimes you don't even get to the finish of it because that's the harsh reality, it's a very success-driven environment."