Sam Warburton backs Warren Gatland for Lions coach in 2017

Sam Warburton and Warren Gatland
Sam Warburton and Warren Gatland

Sam Warburton has backed his Wales and 2013 British and Irish boss Warren Gatland to coach the 2017 Lions.

Gatland, 50, stated his desire to lead the 2017 Lions to his New Zealand homeland after guiding the 2013 tourists to their first Test series win for 16 years in Australia.

That led to Gatland being named UK coach of 2013 at the UK Coaching Awards

"The proof is in the pudding and he got the series win," said 2013 Lions and Wales skipper Warburton.

"When you look at his CV as a coach he has won English championships, Heineken Cups, Grand Slams and a Lions series.

"I mean, he has pretty much ticked all the boxes and had an absolutely fantastic career.

"When you look at his CV it is pretty incredible what he has achieved as a rugby coach and it very well deserved.

"He has been a big influence on my career and a massive help to me and I know all the other Welsh guys would say exactly the same."

Gatland has been Wales coach since 2007 and won two Six Nations Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012 and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.

The New Zealander has a contract with the Welsh Rugby Union until the end of the 2015 World Cup in England.

He appointed Warburton as his Wales captain and made the Cardiff Blues flanker his skipper for the Lions tour of Australia in the summer.

Warburton played in the first two Tests against the Wallabies but missed the third Test and 41-16 win in Sydney because of injury.

While Warburton is happy to push the claims of his Wales coach to lead the Lions again in four years, he distanced himself from being captain against the All Blacks.

"That is ages away and it's nuts to think about that," said Warburton.

"People are talking about the next Lions tour, but from a players perspective it seems like light years away.

"There is so much rugby... attention has turned to the World Cup as long term goals for players.

"We work in two-year cycles at the top level in British sport - with the Lions and two years later you have a World Cup.

"But after being part of the recent Lions tour, the long time ambition is to be on another Lions tour and that would be amazing."

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