British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland has confirmed his coaching staff for the tour to Australia in 2013.
England coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree join Wales backs coach Rob Howley to make up Gatlands core coaching team. There is no place for his Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards or Leinster coach Joe Schmidt, both of whom had been widely tipped for Lions roles.
Edwards is said to be particularly disappointed by his omission from the coaching team given his roles with Gatland stretching back many years and given he was a coach on the previous tour to South Africa alongside Gatland in 2009.
The lack of representation in the senior back-room team from Ireland and Scotland is likely to cause some ruffled feathers with Scotland’s sole representative being doctor James Robson who has been an ever present on the last six Lions tours since 1993.
The absence of a leadership role from the Irish camp will fuel speculation that the Lions captain will come from Ireland with the captains of the last two lions tour coming from Ireland in both Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell.
2005 Lions Captain Brian O’Driscoll is in the last throws of his career but is hoping to go out on a high having represented the Lions on the last three tours and not having yet won a series despite being a stand out performer.
Munster lock O’Connell captained the Lions on the last tour to South Africa in 2009, but he has been suffering from a recent run of unspectacular form and a few injuries that have plagued his season so far.
Both players will be hoping for a big Six Nations to be able to press their claims for a starting spot which is the first step on the road to winning the Lions captaincy.
Gatland said “I am delighted with today’s appointments and confident that Rob, Graham, Andy and myself can come together quickly to face one of the hardest rugby challenges.
“Lions Tours are unique as we have to mold together players from four different countries in an incredibly short space of time.”
“We have no illusion as to the hard work required but we have spoken of the challenges and truly believe that as a coaching team we can provide the players with the support and environment needed for victory in Australia.
“We will also discuss over the coming weeks the requirement for any further technical assistance.
Other coaching and medical staff members confirmed today include Adam Beard, Paul Stridgeon, Rhys Long, Rhodri Brown, Dr James Robson, Prav Mathema and Phil Pask.
Operations and Media staff to include: Guy Richardson, Gerard Carmody, Patrick O’Reilly, Max Duthie, Greg Thomas, Dave Barton, Christine Connolly.