Warren Gatland has emerged as the strong favourite to take charge of the British and Irish Lions for the tour of New Zealand next year, with the new England head coach Eddie Jones unlikely to be involved unless he opens his tenure in spectacular fashion by guiding his side to a Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship this season.
Gatland, the Wales coach who oversaw the Lions’ 2-1 Test series victory against Australia in 2013, is almost certain to head up the shortlist for the coach’s job for the tour against his native New Zealand, the reigning back-to-back world champions.
The Lions board are to draw up a shortlist at the end of the home unions’ summer tours this year, with an appointment expected to be confirmed by the end of August or early September. The Lions board hope that the head coach will take up his appointment with immediate effect, although they are open to some flexibility that could involve the coach retaining some involvement with their national side during the autumn Test series, as Gatland did in 2012.
Jones, who will name his first England elite player training squad on Wednesday, is regarded as a firm outsider, given that he has only just taken up his appointment and has little previous experience of working in the northern hemisphere.
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