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Stuart Lancaster: Warren Gatland didn’t offer me coaching role with Lions

Stuart Lancaster Lions

Expect plenty of speculation over the next few months.

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has said that Warren Gatland did not offer him a coaching role with the British and Irish Lions.

Stuart Lancaster Lions

Potential role with the Lions

Lancaster and Gatland spoke over the phone last week which the Lions boss revealed in Will Greenwood’s podcast. Gatland said that the former England coach was one person he had spoken to in relation to a potential role on the tour of South Africa next year.

Stuart Lancaster admitted that he was interested in the role, as any coach in the northern hemisphere would be, but confirmed that the Lions head coach didn’t offer him a role outright.

Stuart Lancaster Lions

“He just mentioned that we had a conversation, which we did”

“Just to clarify, I don’t think he mentioned me as a Lions coach,” Lancaster began.

“He just mentioned that we had a conversation, which we did. But no, no, I can end the speculation. He didn’t offer me a coaching role with the Lions. But we did catch up. I know him well. I coached England against his Wales (side) since 2012. So, we had a catch-up, but I think there’s a long way to go on that.”

Lancaster continued: “Well if you asked any coach, yeah, in the northern hemisphere, ‘Would you like to be involved?’ Of course, you’d like to be involved because it’s coaching at the highest level against the team that’s the current world champions.

“But, as I say, there’s a lot to play out in that. He’s got to come back from New Zealand and, I think he’s said in the podcast, speak to the home unions. Because there’s a great group of international coaches there, who would all be great candidates, I’m sure.”

Dan Leavy and James Ryan 

Leinster are currently gearing up for their return to rugby which begins with welcoming Munster to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.

The eastern province have a relatively clean bill of health but Lancaster admitted that the game will likely come too soon for Dan Leavy and James Ryan.

The Ireland international back-row has been out for 16 months after suffering a serious knee injury against Ulster in 2016.

“They’re not involved in team sessions at the moment.”

Although the St. Michael’s alumn has made great progress in his recovery, Leinster will be taking a cautious approach with his return. James Ryan, meanwhile, will be targeting a return for the playoffs after undergoing a procedure on his shoulder.

“So they’re both rehabbing on the side of the pitch at the moment. Dan has made amazing progress, I think. But they’re not involved in team sessions at the moment. Both of them, it would be a stretch, to say the least, for Dan to be involved in the Munster game. Because, the injury – with as severe as it was – and the length of time out – we had to make sure we manage him back appropriately.

“But he’s been doing units and stuff; he’s been doing bits and pieces, but he’s still got to do full training for a full week. We’re obviously just over a week away from playing Munster now.

“James has made good progress, really. I think Leo (Cullen) was saying that last week. He wouldn’t be training with us at the moment but we’re optimistic that, if things go well, that he can get towards the finals. The semi-final and finals stages, which is three or four weeks from that Munster game.”

Munster 

In relation to the prospect of facing Munster, Lancaster admits that the signings of World Cup winners RG Snyman and Damian De Allende make the southern province a “formidable outfit.”

“They’re fantastic signings for Munster and we look at their squad now, well, we always did look at it with respect. Because they’re full of top-end Irish international players and players who play for Munster who care deeply about playing for them.

“So, to put on two Rugby World Cup winners into that squad, makes them a formidable outfit. It will be fascinating to see how they integrate and how they use them. Whether they start them or use them off the bench. It’s exciting for us though. I think our players are excited by the challenge.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Munster as a team. I have a lot of respect for their coaching team. It will be fascinating to see how we use them. But from our point of view, we’re pretty confident in the group of players we’ve got. It will be fascinating to see how both teams show up on the day.”

Leinster take on Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, August 22 at 7.35 pm. On Sunday, Connacht will face Ulster at the same venue at 4.30 pm.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter