Warren Gatland has spoken to former England boss Stuart Lancaster as he considers his coaching staff for next summer’s British and Irish Lions tour.
After his stint as England head coach ended following pool-stage elimination from the 2015 World Cup, Lancaster became part of the coaching staff at Leinster and his time at the province has included a Champions Cup win in 2018.
Speaking on a Sky Sports podcast, Gatland, who will take charge of the Lions for a third time when he oversees the 2021 tour to South Africa, said of Lancaster: “I have a huge amount of respect for him.
“We met before the last tour and he spoke to me about his opinions on the Leinster players and the Irish players and gave me an insight into them and I appreciated that. So, look he’s definitely one person that I’ve spoken to.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, but there’s a number of other people that I’ll be looking at and to talk to and the first step is to get clarity from unions and the bosses and then potentially club CEOs about who is available, who isn’t available.”
Ex-Wales boss Gatland – currently working with the Chiefs in his native New Zealand – has also spoken about the likes of Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje playing in the Championship for Saracens ahead of the tour, saying he does not “really have any concerns and worries about what state they’re going to be in”.
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Gatland said: “We understand that maybe playing in the Championship is not going to be quite the same level, but hopefully those players are going to get a significant amount of international rugby between now and the tour, and if you look at them, a lot of them are pretty experienced and pretty seasoned campaigners as well.
“Maybe the positive thing about the Saracens players is they’re going to play some Test matches, they’re going to be playing some Championship matches, but they’re going to come on tour really refreshed and excited and probably maybe in better shape than a lot of other players because they haven’t had quite the same level of intensity. But I’m just speculating about that at the moment. It’s just a matter of wait and see.
“I don’t really have any concerns and worries about what state they’re going to be in, because I think they’re going to get enough top-level rugby before the tour.”