Warren Gatland has said that he would not have taken the role of British & Irish Lions head coach if he didn’t believe his side could win the series in South Africa in 2021.
The 55-year-old was confirmed as the head coach this morning making him just the second man to take charge for three consecutive tours, following in the footsteps of Ian McGeechan.
Gatland previously led the Lions to victory in Australia in 2013 before the drawn series in New Zealand in 2017.
Speaking to the Lions website, Gatland said he is “honoured” to take on the role once again.
Warren Gatland has been named The British & Irish Lions Head Coach for the 2021 Tour to South Africa pic.twitter.com/T6ascoiDMA
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 12, 2019
“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
“South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.”
Gatland was the assistant coach to Ian McGeechan when the Lions toured South Africa in 2009 and from that experience, he knows that it is going to be a huge challenge.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.
“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”
The New Zealand native will step down from his role as the head coach of Wales following the Rugby World Cup later this year. Current Scarlets head coach, Wayne Pivac will succeed him after signing a four-year contract.