Heavy Chiefs loss ‘won’t hurt Gatland’s Lions chances’

Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland’s Wales reached the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup

Warren Gatland’s chances of becoming British and Irish Lions coach for next year’s tour of New Zealand have not been hurt by Wales’ thrashing by the Chiefs, says Lions chief John Feehan.

The Wales coach saw his side beaten 40-7 on Tuesday by the Super Rugby side.

Gatland led the Lions to a 2013 tour victory in Australia and Feehan says Gatland’s record speaks for itself.

“One game in Hamilton is neither here nor there in the overall scheme of things,” he said.

“It’s so easy to just be negative about one result, it’s got nothing to do with it. Look at Warren’s CV, it’s just a stunning CV.”

Since Gatland took over as Wales coach, they have won three Six Nations titles and two Grand Slams.

Beating the Wallabies was the Lions’ first series win since the 1997 tour to South Africa.

Feehan has previously said that Gatland, 52, was the “leading contender” for the three-Test Tour to his native New Zealand with the Wales coach admitting the job would be “difficult to turn down”.

The Lions, who have won just one series against the All Blacks in eight tours, will play three Tests against the world champions as well as facing all five of New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises.

Wales, beaten 39-21 by New Zealand at Eden Park, play Steve Hansen’s side again in Wellington on Saturday and are looking for a first win over the All Blacks since 1953.


The Lions beat Australia 41-16 in the third Test in 2013 under Gatland to clinch a 2-1 series win

Interviews for the Lions head coach role will take place after the summer tours with an announcement due to be made in September.

“There is a lot of rugby to played in the next little while and I wouldn’t bet against Wales having a really good one this weekend,” said Feehan.

England coach Eddie Jones has said he does not want to be considered for the Lions role as he focuses on his role with the RFU.

Jones led England to a Grand Slam in the 2016 Six Nations and is now targeting a series win in Australia after England beat the Wallabies in the opening Test.

“He was quite clear with us. He has said that he does not want to be involved,” said Feehan.

“We need to respect his wishes. If Eddie wants to have a think otherwise, it’s up to him basically.

“But for now we have got to respect the wishes that he has put out there publicly.”

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