A stop in New Zealand before another Lions Tour for Gatland?

A stop in New Zealand before another Lions Tour for Gatland?

Warren Gatland will lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa and will become just the second person to lead the side on three consecutive tours.

The current Wales head coach will finish his tenure as the coach of the Grand Slam winning side at the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year before the 55-year-old will start as head coach of the Lions on 1 August 2020 and will work exclusively with the Lions until the conclusion of the 2021 tour to South Africa 12 months later.

Following the World Cup Gatland will head up the Barbarians against Wales in a one-off match at the Principality Stadium in November following which he will have around 10 months in which he is not contracted to any side.

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When questioned, at the announcement of him as the Lions coach, Gatland admitted there were discussions on what he would do after the World Cup, and potentially after the Tour, but no formal negotiations were made as of yet. 

Gatland has expressed his desire to return to New Zealand after the World Cup and potentially work with a side back home if a position were to open up.

The timing could be perfect for Gatland to work with a Super Rugby squad for a season before starting his third stint with the Lions. 

During his playing days, Gatland represented Waikato before Super Rugby was formed with the Chiefs now the franchise covering that region. 

The Chiefs could be an ideal designation for the Lions coach, with the Highlanders already being boosted by the return of Tony Brown and Aaron Mauger still on their books. The Crusaders are likely to still have Scott Robertson heading up the franchise, unless he is given the All Blacks job and even if he is, it is likely that the Crusaders would promote within and look for a long term replacement.

The Blues have invested in former Crusader Leon MacDonald, making the Chiefs one of the few viable designations.

The Chiefs have somewhat struggled since Dave Rennie's departure and could bring Gatland in as an advisor or temporary Director of Rugby to help guide Colin Cooper and strengthen the Chiefs.

Gatland could also provide a similar service as Sir Graham Henry did for Auckland last year and he helped the side win the Mitre 10 Cup.

The move would service both parties as Gatland would spend more time in New Zealand while keeping his mind fresh and test tactics for the Lions. 

He would also be able to get a bit more insight to the South African players the Lions would front up against in 2021.

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