Lions could re-appoint McGeechan

Mon, 18 Oct 20:09:00 2010

The Lions have opened the door for Sir Ian McGeechan to lead the 2013 tour to Australia, but risk facing troubled waters should they pursue his main rival Warren Gatland.

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Former Scotland full-back Andy Irvine was confirmed as tour manager and immediately turned his attention to the identity of the next head coach. McGeechan had declared the epic series defeat by South Africa in 2009 would be his last in the post, but his name remains synonymous with the Lions following seven tours as a player or coach.

Irvine insisted the 63-year-old, currently Bath's performance director, would be an outstanding candidate if he could be tempted to reverse his decision and said: "Geech is back in the fold at Bath. We've very much got an open mind on Geech - his record speaks for itself, he's Lions through to the core and did a fantastic job on the last tour."

He added: "He has to be a consideration. If he rules himself out I wouldn't want to put any pressure on him.

"Whoever coaches the Lions has to want to do it, but if Ian throws his hat into the ring we'd seriously have to look at it.

"The last tour got an awful lot of things right and that should be the template for the way forward."

If he changes his mind, McGeechan's strongest rival for the post is Gatland, though a significant obstacle would have to be overcome for the Wales coach to be appointed.

Irvine deems it unlikely that any of the coaches in the 2013 Six Nations will be considered due to the demands of the Lions. For Gatland to be involved a break clause in his contract with the Welsh Rugby Union, which has been extended until 2015, would have to be negotiated.

The WRU are unlikely to be pleased at the prospect of losing the central figure of their management team for up to a season and Irvine admits availability is an issue.

"It's not feasible for a head coach to run the national side in the Six Nations prior to the tour because it would be asking too much," he said. "The national sides would probably baulk at that idea anyway because their national coach's eye would be taken off the ball."

PA Sport

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