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Gatland appointed as Lions coach

Warren Gatland has been appointed as coach of the British and Irish Lions. There was little surprise at the choice of the man who led Wales to a Grand Slam and a Rugby World Cup semi-final in 2011.

Gatland will take charge for the 2013 tour of Australia. He will remain in charge of Wales for their autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia, which will also serve as valuable research for the task that will face him when he leads the Lions.

He believes the Lions have the opportunity to make an impression in the Antipodes. "Playing in the southern hemisphere is one of rugby's hardest challenges," Gatland said. "The Lions came close in South Africa and our ambition is to win the series in 2013 – and I believe we have the players to do that."

The New Zealander Gatland will relish the chance to pit his skills against the Australians. "I am really honoured to have been asked to take the position of head coach," Gatland said. "I really enjoyed the experience as one of the assistant coaches in 2009 and since then have harboured the ambition to lead the tour to Australia. A Lions tour is unique, it is the ultimate career pinnacle for coaches and players. I want to ensure that we get the tour environment right so that we are hugely competitive and that our fans are proud of the team."

Gatland will pick his coaching team over the winter. The touring party heads out to Hong Kong for a warm-up against the Barbarians on June 1 before the Australian tour starts on June 5. There will be three Tests and six tour matches.

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