Warren Gatland: Wales coach ideal candidate for 2021 tour, says Matthew Rees

Warren Gatland (left) was the British and Lions forwards coach on the 2009 tour of South Africa
Warren Gatland (left) was the British and Lions forwards coach on the 2009 tour of South Africa

Former British and Irish Lions Test hooker Matthew Rees says Warren Gatland is the right choice to lead the tourists in South Africa in 2021.

Gatland is in contention to be the head coach for a third time after leading the tourists in Australia in 2013 and New Zealand four years later.

"He is definitely the right choice," said ex-Wales captain Rees.

"He has been the most consistent northern hemisphere coach in the last 10 years."

Gatland was part of Sir Ian McGeechan's coaching party in South Africa 2009 before leading the Lions to victory in 2013 and a drawn Test series against his native New Zealand four years later.

After taking over as Wales coach in 2008, Gatland will leave after the World Cup in Japan later this year, following a successful period which has seen three Grand Slams.

The Welsh Rugby Union would not comment on a report that Gatland will be offered the Lions role in the next month before the World Cup training camp starts.

The Lions said in a statement that the recruitment was confidential and "it was not appropriate to discuss until an appointment is made".

Matthew Rees packs down between Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins against South Africa for the 2009 Lions
Matthew Rees (C) made up an all-Wales front-row alongside Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins for the second 2009 Lions Test against the Springboks

Rees was part of the Test squad who lost the series 2-1 in South Africa in 2009 and believes that will motivate Gatland if he is given the position.

"With the success he has had with the 2013 tour of Australia and then the draw in New Zealand, he also has some unfinished business in South Africa after the disappointment of losing in 2009," said Rees.

"There are not many tougher places than South Africa. He would have taken a lot of experience from 2009 which would have put him in good stead if he is given the role for 2021.

"He knows about the Lions concept which is important because you only have a few weeks before you fly out to start the tour and you need to gel quickly.

"To do it for the Lions is the ultimate. Warren now how northern hemisphere rugby goes and has worked alongside the Irish, Scottish and English players over the last couple of tours."

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