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Leinster's McBryde confirmed as part of Gatland's Lions coaching team

Gregor Townsend, Steve Tandy, and Neil Jenkins have also been appointed.

Lions coaching team (credit Inpho) Robin McBryde, Steve Tandy, Warren Gatland, Gregor Townsend, and Neil Jenkins.

LEINSTER’S ROBIN MCBRYDE has been confirmed as part of Warren Gatland’s Lions coaching team for this summer’s scheduled trip to South Africa.

McBryde will be the Lions’ forwards coach, while Gatland has confirmed that Scotland boss Gregor Townsend will be his attack coach, Scotland defence coach Steve Tandy will carry out the same role for the Lions, and Neil Jenkins will continue as kicking coach.

Gatland has also indicated that he may add “some extra resource” to his backroom staff as the tour approaches.

McBryde previously worked under Gatland with Wales before his move to Leinster following the 2019 World Cup and expressed his excitement at linking up with his old boss again, as well as his gratitude to Leinster for allowing him to take up the offer.

“I am very much looking forward to linking up with Warren and being part of his coaching group again,” said McBryde, who toured with the Lions as a player in 2001.

“We’ve seen some excellent rugby in the Six Nations recently with some standout 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.”

Townsend’s role as attack specialist is his first appointment to the Lions in a coaching capacity, but he toured South Africa with the Lions as a player in 1997, starting two Tests.

The Scottish Rugby Union have released both Towsend and Wales native Tandy – formerly the head coach of the Ospreys before a stint with the Waratahs in Australia then a move to Scotland in 2019 – for the Lions tour this summer.

Jenkins will reprise his role overseeing the Lions’ kicking game on what will be his sixth tour as a player or coach.

It remains unclear exactly what format the tour of South Africa will take, and whether supporters will be able to attend games, but the current schedule involves five warm-up games and three Tests against the Springboks. The Lions are also due to play Japan at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on 26 June before departing to South Africa.

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

“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.  

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“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.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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