Warren Gatland is the favourite to lead the Lions to New Zealand in 2017.
Having won a Lions series in Australia in 2013, it would not be too much of a surprise if Warren Gatland did not reprise the role for the tour to New Zealand next year.
As a result, many are beginning to speculate as to who Gatland’s assistants might be. Writing in the Daily Mail, Chris Foy is no different, arguing that Martin Johnson, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree could take their place alongside the Welsh coach.
Farrell’s appointment by Ireland works perfectly in political terms, as it would allow Gatland to trumpet an ‘Irish’ figure in his coaching staff, along with the Welsh (himself) and English (Rowntree).
To complete the set, Gregor Townsend could be borrowed from Glasgow as backs/attack coach.
Given the exciting brand of rugby played by Glasgow, the addition of Townsend would indeed be interesting, however the inclusion of Farrell and Rowntree would cause debate. Although Farrell has been given an opportunity to rebuild his career in Ireland, Rowntree came in for particular criticism for the manner in which England’s scrum was decimated by Australia.
As for Johnson, although Foy rightly contends that the World Cup winning Captain is a ‘revered two-time captain of the Lions and has the rare distinction of leading a home nation to victory in New Zealand’, he simply ignores the fact that Johnson’s England team embarrassed the nation with their antics at the 2011 World Cup.
Nevertheless, Foy suggests putting Johnson in a ‘blazer and give him a vague consultancy brief if necessary, but he must be there in some official capacity; to inspire the tourists and generate a sense of creeping dread around the host country’.
To many, appointing Johnson, Farrell and Rowntree as assistants would be a backward step. To win in New Zealand, the Lions will have to dominate the breakdown, something teams coached by the trio failed to achieve on a consistent basis.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena