/ Rugby

Wales coaching trio picked for Lions tour

Updated: Wednesday, 22 Oct 2008 13:55

Ian McGeechan with Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley in Dublin today Tour manager Gerald Davies with the full Lions coaching team in Dublin this afternoon
Ian McGeechan with Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley in Dublin today Tour manager Gerald Davies with the full Lions coaching team in Dublin this afternoon

Wales' Grand Slam coaching trio of Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley will be on Lions duty in South Africa next summer.

Gatland, who masterminded Wales' RBS 6 Nations title triumph and tournament clean sweep last season, has landed the role of forwards coach.

He will work in a coaching team headed by Ian McGeechan, his successor as director of rugby with current Guinness Premiership champions Wasps.

McGeechan, whose Lions appointment was announced last month, will have also current Wasps coach Edwards and the club's former star scrum-half Howley alongside him on the ten-match tour.

Edwards will look after the Lions' defence, with Howley in charge of attack.

Further appointments to the management team announced in Dublin today were Wales' Craig White, who will look after players' physical conditioning, Scotland team doctor James Robson, performance analyst Rhys Long and media chief Greg Thomas.

Tour Manager Gerald Davies said: 'Today is an important milestone in our preparation. The personnel announced today have the proven skill sets to ensure that the Lions squad is well prepared for the tour to South Africa next year.

'The cosmopolitan make-up of the management team reflects the modern nature of rugby and they like me are well aware of the challenges that await us.'

Commenting on the coaching appointments McGeechan said: 'Lions tours are unique as we have to meld together players from four different countries. There has to be a unified, common approach on the tour with coaches and players working together.

'We therefore have to create a positive environment and appoint the right personnel to help devise the right strategies to take on the Springboks at home.

'I am delighted with today's appointments and confident that we can come together quickly as preparation time is always short.

'Working with coaches and personnel that I know well and who have successful track records and experience ensures that we will get the best out of the players and provide the greatest chance of winning the Test series.'

The Lions head to South Africa next May for a tour in which the highlights will be the three Tests against the world champion Springboks in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Their first game is against a Highveld XV in Rustenburg on 30 May.

New Zealander Gatland succeeded Gareth Jenkins as Wales coach late last year, and his first match in charge was marked by Wales beating England at Twickenham for the first time since 1988.

Former Great Britain and Wigan rugby league star Edwards, together with ex-Wales captain Howley, were brought on board by Gatland in time for the Six Nations campaign.

Robin McBryde will stand in for Gatland as caretaker head coach on Wales' summer tour to the US and Canada.

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