The Ireland defence coach tops list with bookmakers SportNation

Andy Farrell favourite to coach British & Irish Lions in 2021

ANDY FARRELL has emerged as the front-runner to take the top job with the British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021.

According to bookmakers SportNation, the former Super League Man of Steel and current Ireland defence coach is considered evens to head up the touring party. Farrell has served as an assistant and defence coach on the previous two Lions tours.

This comes soon after it was announced that Farrell would take over from Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach following the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Schmidt – who has guided Ireland to two wins over the All Blacks during his reign – has stated that he will finish with coaching to focus on his family after the showpiece in Japan, but is still joint-second favourite for the Lions post at 4/1, according to SportNation. He is joined at that price by current England head coach Eddie Jones.

Andy Farrell favourite to coach British & Irish Lions

Available: England boss Eddie Jones is free to talk with the Lions bosses

In January, Jones signed a new deal with the Rugby Football Union that had wiggle room for Jones to work with the Lions if all parties are interested. At the time now-outgoing England CEO Steve Brown said of the deal: “Bear in mind that we’re a quarter-shareholder in the Lions and we’ll have some say in that too.

“Our view would be that if we’re planning for success, and we’ve come out of a very successful World Cup, and Eddie is the right coach for the Lions, the arrangement isn’t going to preclude that.”

The current odds being offered by SportNation are:

  • Andy Farrell Evens
  • Eddie Jones 4/1
  • Joe Schmidt 4/1
  • Mark McCall 8/1
  • Gregor Townsend 10/1
  • Dai Young 14/1
  • Warren Gatland 18/1
  • Rob Howley 33/1

Despite having publicly ruled himself out of the running to replace Eddie Jones as England head coach following the 2019 World Cup, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is fourth on the list at 8/1. Current Scotland boss Gregor Townsend – who was fly-half when the Lions last won a series against the Springboks, in 1997 – is fifth.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young – the only player to have toured with the Lions in three different decades – is sixth, ahead of Warren Gatland.

Andy Farrell favourite to coach British & Irish Lions

Experienced head: Warren Gatland has been in charge of the last two Lions tours

The Kiwi coach will leave Wales after the 2019 World Cup and has overseen a Lions series win in Australia in 2013, and a drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.

Related: Meet next Wales boss, Wayne Pivac

In the aftermath of that tour, Gatland said of the 2021 series: “I wouldn’t subject myself to that. What I’ve learned from my Lions experiences is how difficult it is to put some continuity together in terms of people and staff, and the lack of preparation time. Let someone else do it.”

Despite this, Gatland is getting odds of 18/1 to oversee the tour to South Africa. Drifting at 33/1 is long-time Gatland collaborator Rob Howley, currently Wales assistant coach.

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