Coaches Gatland, Farrell, Borthwick and Howley discuss coaching strategy

Lions coaches discuss the importance of a support team
03:01

It will take a special British & Irish Lions squad with a well-thought strategy to beat New Zealand in the the summer. Thankfully, there is a team of coaches who are preparing and planning how to do just that.

Warren Gatland is head coach of The 2017 British & Irish Lions and his speciality is picking teams. He has 10 of them to select for the 10 demanding fixtures the Lions will face in New Zealand in June and July.

But he will have put together many “teams behind the team” before the Lions even leave the UK towards the end of May.

First of all, he had to pick his coaching team. Its core is a backs (or attack) coach, a forwards coach and a defence coach – and Gatland chose, respectively, Rob Howley, Steve Borthwick and Andy Farrell for those roles.

This “gang of four” are the brains trust, the experienced rugby men who together will decide the selection, tactics and mentality that, they hope, will result in the Lions winning in New Zealand for only the second time in more than 100 years.

Here, in this video, they get round the table to discuss their approach to what is the biggest challenge in rugby: bringing the best of the four home nations together to take on the best team in the world, the double world champions All Blacks.

Gatland will have put together many ‘teams behind the team’ before the Lions even leave the UK in May

In picking his coaching team, Gatland applied many of the same rules he will use when he chooses his Lions XV for the opening game of the tour, in Whangarei on 3 June. He has picked on form and experience – Howley, Borthwick and Farrell are all at the top of their game.

  • Howley, a scrum-half on two Lions tours, has been part of the Wales coaching set-up under Gatland since 2008, in which time they have won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached a World Cup semi-final. In addition, he was attack coach on the past two Lions tours – the narrow series defeat in 2009 in South Africa and the victory in Australia in 2013.

  • Borthwick retired from a stellar playing career only in 2014 and in three years has become a hugely influential coach. He was the forwards coach who inspired Japan to a shock victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup and then joined Eddie Jones’s England coaching team.

  • Farrell, one of rugby league’s greatest ever players, is making a similar name for himself as a coach in union. He was England’s backs coach from 2012-15 before moving to Ireland to become defence coach, a role he filled on the last Lions tour. Not only does he devise defensive strategies, his motivational powers are legendary within the game.

But crucially two of the three coaches have worked with head coach Gatland before. Time is short on a Lions tour, and preparation is pretty brief too, so familiarity breeds strength. And those two, Howley and Farrell, have experience of a winning Lions tour – and there have been only five of these in history, so it is priceless experience at that.

As Gatland says: “To have some continuity of people who have worked together, that have been on tours together, and to have some fresh faces to be able to bring some different ideas or different views is essential.

“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'm looking forward to working with him.”

The team behind the team

QBE is a principal partner of The British & Irish Lions’ 2017 tour to New Zealand, officially designated as supporting the Lions’ management and backroom staff, or the ‘team behind the team’.

QBE is a global insurer and reinsurer with operations in all the key insurance markets. QBE believes that the challenges faced and rewards achieved from the Lions one-team approach, builds close and enduring relationships that closely mirrors its own business.

For more information go to QBEeurope.com

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