Gatland confirmed by Lions
New Zealander to announce his coaching staff in October
Last Updated: 04/09/12 1:48pm
Wales boss Warren Gatland has been officially announced as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their 2013 tour of Australia.
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The worst kept secret in rugby union was finally confirmed on Tuesday in London after the initial announcement was delayed due to Gatland breaking both of his heels in a fall whilst on holiday in New Zealand back in April.
The 48-year-old, the long-time favourite for the role after leading Wales to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2011, has now fully recovered to take over the reins.
Gatland replaces Sir Ian McGeechan at the helm, having previously been part of the backroom staff for the tour to South Africa in 2009.
"A Lions tour is unique, it is the ultimate career pinnacle for coaches and players."
Warren Gatland Quotes of the week
"There is no question it will be one hell of a challenge," he said.
"Playing in the southern hemisphere is one of rugby's hardest challenges. The Lions came close in South Africa (in 2009) and our ambition is to win the series in 2013 - and I believe we have the players to do that."
Gatland coached Ireland for three years before taking over at Wasps, where he won a hat-trick of Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup.
After a spell at the helm for Waikato back in his homeland, he took charge of Wales after they had failed to get out of the pool stages at the 2007 World Cup.
The former All Black will become the second New Zealander to lead the Lions on a tour to Australia, after Graham Henry's failed attempt to win a series against the Wallabies back in 2001.
"I am really honoured to have been asked to take the position of head coach," Gatland added.
"I really enjoyed the experience as one of the assistant coaches in 2009 and since then have harboured the ambition to lead the tour to Australia next year.
"Over the coming months I will give careful consideration to the make-up of my coaching staff and of course the playing squad itself.
"A Lions tour is unique, it is the ultimate career pinnacle for coaches and players. I want to ensure that we get the tour environment right so that we are hugely competitive and that our fans are proud of the team."
Gatland will coach Wales for their autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia but otherwise will be seconded full-time to the Lions, meaning Rob Howley - who stood in at the helm for Wales' summer tour of Australia - will lead the reigning champions in the 2013 RBS Six Nations.
The Lions have a one-off match against the Barbarians on June 1 in Hong Kong before heading to Australia where they will play nine games during their month-long trip, including Tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Gatland will confirm his full coaching team for the tour in October, with Graham Rowntree and Shaun Edwards expected to be part of the backroom staff.