Ian McGeechan 'an option' for 2013 Lions tour

 

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The Independent Online

Tour manager Andy Irvine believes British and Irish Lions coaching legend Sir Ian McGeechan is "an option" to take charge of the 2013 tour in Australia.

Lions bosses are set to reveal the head coach's identity next April or May.

Wales supremo Warren Gatland, Ireland chief Declan Kidney and Scotland's Andy Robinson are all likely to be in contention, with McGeechan also potentially featuring in the mix.

McGeechan, 65, has been involved on five Lions tours, four of those as head coach, including the trip to South Africa in 2009. He is currently rugby director at Aviva Premiership club Bath.

"Ian McGeechan has not ruled himself out entirely," his fellow Scot Irvine said.

"He did indicate that 2009 would be his last tour, but he has said nothing definitive and he has to be an option."

Former Scotland and Lions full-back Irvine will manage the 10-game trip, which begins with a fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1, 2013 and features three Tests against the Wallabies.

"We have a completely open mind for the 2013 tour on who it (coach) will be," added Irvine, speaking at the Cardiff launch of the 2013 tour fixture schedule.

"Whoever the coach is will be taking a year out. He does not have to come from the home unions and we could look worldwide, but ideally the head coach will come from a union associated with the Lions.

"It is such a highly-prized job that we will not be short of candidates. To play for the Lions is the ultimate, and to coach the Lions is pretty close to that.

"We would like Declan Kidney, Andy Robinson and Warren Gatland to all be available. I think all three would be available if required."

The Lions last visited Australia 10 years ago, losing the Test series 2-1 under Graham Henry's direction, while they suffered similar agony in South Africa on the 2009 trip, being edged out during a titanic three-game rubber.

Irvine said: "2009 was a successful tour on and off the field and a great credit to all involved.

"They were unlucky with injuries in the second Test and outscored South Africa on tries.

"Continuity is an important thing, and with such a tight schedule it does help if the coaches were involved in the previous tour, but there is also a view that it is good to spread the Lions experience a bit.

"The Lions coach will not be involved in the 2013 Six Nations. He will need to be free of international commitments so he can look at players from the four home unions and be at different matches, and that would include the 2012 autumn series.

PA

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