When, not if, for women's Lions team, says Calveley

Eddie Jones with Warren Gatland

Eddie Jones with Warren Gatland

The Lions could take a trimmed-down squad to South Africa to combat their shorter tour, with Gatland admitting he is already weighing up how best to deploy resources.

Jones is contracted until 2021 with the original plan that he would mentor his successor for two years but it seems increasingly likely that the Australian will depart after this year's World Cup.

"Thinking about the possibility of leading the Lions in South Africa, I know it's going to be tough, it's a real rugby hotbed over there and the Lions in the past have always found it quite hard with the history of how physical and passionate they are, but I spoke to my family and it was something I couldn't turn my back on".

"I think my coaching path is going to take different directions.

I have been head coach with Waikato and won a championship there, and I want to challenge myself with Super Rugby".

He added: "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. I'd like to go back to New Zealand hopefully if there's an opportunity in Super Rugby". That took me by surprise.

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"I can tell you definitively now I will not be coaching England".

"We're delighted to have got our man. Warren is a world-class coach, boasts a proven track record and knows the Lions better than anyone else now coaching in world rugby, so naturally he was our first-choice candidate from the start of the process", said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

After the New Zealand tour, Gatland said that the squeeze on preparation time was putting the whole Lions concept at risk but the 2021 tour looks set to be even tighter. And then there was so much positivity from the NZ public.

Gatland is unbeaten in two tours as head coach of the Lions, winning the Test series 2-1 against Australia in 2013 before a remarkable tie against New Zealand four years later - with the tourists drawing a dramatic final Test against the All Blacks. The host nation withheld all their test players from the warm-up games, ticket sales were poor locally and the Lions then lost the first two Tests against a side who seemed more interested in the Tri-Nations series to follow.

"I love the Lions and think they are in an incredibly healthy state now", he said.

"The Southern Hemisphere definitely do want to support the Lions, they know that's very important". The challenges are with the northern hemisphere. "Part of it being successful is having competitive tours and being successful from a rugby aspect". This was a unanimous decision from the Lions board, and it was important that we moved swiftly and proactively to secure Warren's signature. "We have to protect it and make it successful".

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