Edwards to miss out on Lions gig

by RUGBY.com.au staff

British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland will turn to Rob Howley, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree to form his backroom staff ahead of next summer's tour, according to reports.

Gatland will unveil his coaching team on December 12 in Edinburgh, but reports on the BBC claim that he has tied down his Wales assistant Rob Howley along with the England duo for the 2013 tour. If the reports are correct, the news means that Shaun Edwards, who worked alongside Gatland and under Sir Ian McGeechan on the 2009 tour of South Africa, will not get the nod.

Howley is currently acting as interim boss for Wales while Gatland focuses on Lions duties and there were reports that Howley would focus on his Welsh responsibilities rather than touring to Australia with the Lions. Former Wasps coach Edwards is part of that Wales backroom staff and if he is omitted from the Lions coaching party, it could be him who leads Wales on their tour of Japan next summer.

Howley, Farrell and Rowntree's areas of coaching responsibility are yet to be confirmed but if Farrell does get the nod, then it will cap an incredible year for the former rugby league star. Farrell was part of England's interim coaching team for the 2012 Six Nations, alongside Stuart Lancaster and Rowntree, but originally spurned the opportunity to take on the role on a permanent basis in favour of continuing his role as head coach at Saracens. He later had a change of heart and, alongside Mike Catt, penned full-time contracts with the Rugby Football Union in the summer.

If Rowntree's services are called upon, then it will be his second tour as a coach after he played in the 2005 tour to New Zealand. He has been part of the England set-up since 2007 and is likely to be involved with either the scrum or the forwards side of coaching.

The duo look set to be joined by Howley in Gatland's trio of support staff. He too was part of the 2009 coaching group and he played on the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours. He has overseen six matches as caretaker coach of Wales and has seen his charges slump to five losses. But Gatland seemingly has faith in the 42-year-old and he looks set to be responsible for Lions' attack next summer.

Leinster boss Joe Schmidt was linked with a role in the Lions backroom staff, along with Edwards, and Gatland could add further staff in the coming months prior to the tour.