Rugby: Warren Gatland set to lead British and Irish Lions on South Africa tour in 2021

Wales coach Warren Gatland.
Wales coach Warren Gatland. Photo credit: Getty

The British and Irish Lions are set to reappoint Warren Gatland for a third time for the 2021 tour to South Africa, according to reports.

The Sunday Telegraph claims the Lions board agreed at a meeting two weeks ago the 55-year-old was its "outstanding candidate", and hopes to agree to terms with the New Zealander within a month.

Gatland, who is leaving his role as Wales head coach after the Rugby World Cup, led the side to a series victory in Australia in 2013, before earning a draw over three games against the All Blacks in 2017.

He was also a member of the staff during the lost series in South Africa in 2009, and it's understood he's keen to avenge the defeat.

Newly appointed Lions chairman Jason Leonard is expected to lead the negotiations, which are expected to begin within days.

"Warren is our number one choice. He understands the Lions and the unique challenges of touring," a senior Lions source told the Sunday Telegraph.

"He has already proven his ability to put together a successful touring squad, not just in picking form players but also the right kind of personalities and characters that make the Lions so special.

"His track record with Wales speaks for itself, and the brilliant thing for the Lions is that he will have no distractions in the build-up to the South Africa tour and there will also be no complications connected to hiring him from one of the unions.

"It is important that we get the deal done as quickly as possible to allow him quite rightly to concentrate fully on Wales' World Cup preparations."

The report adds Gatland would start the role after taking a six-month break following the World Cup.

Gatland has also been linked to the England, Wallabies and Chiefs coaching roles.