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Gatland keeps lid on Lions 'mystery' coach

AAP logoAAP 7/12/2016 Andrew Baldock

Warren Gatland says he has identified a potential second British and Irish Lions attack coach for next summer's New Zealand tour.

But Gatland revealed he has not spoken with former England and Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan, who had been strongly linked to a Lions role.

Gatland will be joined in New Zealand by assistant coaches Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell and Rob Howley, whose appointments were confirmed in Dublin on Wednesday.

The head coach had talked previously about taking a second attack coach, with Scotland's Gregor Townsend the strong favourite before he ruled himself out, and Gatland said: "That's the plan. I have identified someone I want to get.

"I am definitely looking for someone who is involved in the 15s game."

Now that the front-line coaches are in place, speculation will intensify over the make-up of Gatland's final squad, which will be announced on April 19 and comes after an autumn Tests schedule when England won all four of their games, Ireland beat New Zealand and Wales claimed their best set of November results since 2002.

In terms of the coaches, former England skipper and current Red Rose forwards coach Borthwick is a Lions newcomer, but he has made a considerable impression during England's spectacular unbeaten revival under their Australian head coach Eddie Jones.

Former England assistant coach Farrell was appointed as Ireland defence coach earlier this year, and he helped oversee victories over South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, while attack specialist Howley, who is currently Wales boss while Gatland concentrates on Lions business this season, makes his third successive Lions tour as a coach.

He also travelled as a player in 1997 and 2001.

"I said from the outset it was important to have continuity because we need to hit the ground running, given the limited preparation time," Gatland said.

"In Rob and Andy, we have guys who understand the Lions concept, have worked together and know how to coach a winning Lions team.

"It's also important to have some new input. Steve has done a great job in shaping the England pack and played a major role in their recent run of success, so I am looking forward to working with him."

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