Warren Gatland snubs Eddie Jones' England coaches for 2021 Lions tour of South Africa

WARREN GATLAND said he needed fresh-blood in his Lions coaching team for what will be an absolutely unique Lions tour to South Africa.

Lions stalwarts Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree both pulled out of this summer's tour – as did Steve Borthwick.

So the three Englishman have been replaced by a new-look team that Gatland reckons will freshen things up for what will be a testing time for the squad in a Covid bubble.

Gatland has completely snubbed Eddie Jones' England set-up as none of his coaches are picked after their worst ever Six Nations.

In comes Scotland boss and ex Lions player Gregor Townsend to lead the attack.

Leinster and ex Wales forwards guru Robin McBryde will get the pack ready to take on the Springboks with debutant Steve Tandy in charge of defence against the world champions.

Lions legend Neil Jenkins goes on his fourth tour as part of the backroom staff, having played on two others as a player.

And Gatland said: “I am very pleased to have assembled such a high-quality coaching team.

“It’s a really strong group and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together – I think we’ll all complement each other well in South Africa.

“A Lions tour is a unique challenge, so it’s important to have some continuity in the coaching group.

"Neil understands the exceptional demands that only a Lions tour can present, and we will benefit from his knowledge and experience.

“But it’s also important to have new voices and a fresh perspective. Gregor is doing an excellent job in charge of Scotland and is an outstanding coach.

"He also understands the challenges of touring South Africa as a player and what it takes to win there, so I am extremely happy he will be part of the set-up.

“Steve has made Scotland’s defence one of the most organised in world rugby – something we saw throughout the recent Six Nations.

"He’s clearly an intelligent coach and someone I am very much looking forward to working with.

“Obviously Robin is someone who I know very well from our time together in Wales.

"He is an impressive and experienced coach who continues to have success with Leinster.

"I think he’ll be well suited to the Lions environment and I am sure he will do an excellent job with the forwards.

“As the tour approaches we may look to bring in some extra resource, but this will be the core group for the time being.

“Touring South Africa is always a huge challenge and clearly when the squad assembles in June to begin our preparations everything is going to look and feel a bit different to previous tours.

"But having spoken to the coaches individually over the past few days we’re absolutely determined to make it an enjoyable, memorable and ultimately successful experience for everyone involved.”

To be involved as a player and now as a coach is truly humbling.

Townsend's appointment sees him return to represent the worlds most-famous touring side since taking on and beating South Africa in 1997.

The ex fly-half said: “To be involved as a player and now as a coach is truly humbling.

“The Springboks are a formidable opponent on home turf, but looking at the talent in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to do something special.

“One of the great challenges of a Lions tour is to bring together players from four different countries, in a short space of time, and create an attacking threat that will cause the opposition problems.

"It’s something I am already looking forward to.”

The challenge for us will be to come together quickly and be physical and uncompromising in the way we play.

McBryde made four appearances for the Lions on 2001 Tour to Australia.

The Welshman said: “I am very much looking forward to linking up with Warren and being part of his coaching group again.

“We’ve seen some excellent rugby in the Six Nations recently with some stand out performances by players from the four Home Nations – especially some of the forwards. That’s really positive for the Lions.

“South African rugby is known for its physicality, so we’ll be under no illusions of what to expect when we arrive.

"The challenge for us will be to come together quickly and be physical and uncompromising in the way we play.

“I am grateful and excited for the opportunity ahead, but my focus will remain with Leinster until the end of the season and I’m incredibly grateful to them for allowing me to tour.”

New man Tandy added: “To take on the World Champions in their own backyard is a massive test and one I am really looking forward to being part of.

“There have been some brilliant Lions defence coaches in the past – Andy Farrell, Shaun Edwards and Phil Larder – so it’s a huge honour to be chosen.

“From a defence perspective we need to make sure we get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible.

“I am sure Gregor and I will benefit greatly from this experience and gain valuable knowledge about the Springboks ahead of the Rugby World Cup in two years’ time.”

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