Warren Gatland named as Lions head coach

Gatland has previously served as forwards coach for the Lions in 2009 Photo: David Davies / PA Archive

Warren Gatland is prepared for "one hell of a challenge" after being confirmed as the British and Irish Lions' head coach for the 2013 tour of Australia.

The New Zealander, who's guided Wales to two Grand Slams in 4 years, will take charge of the team for the 10 match tour commencing with a game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1.

There is no question it will be one hell of a challenge

Playing in the southern hemisphere is one of rugby's hardest challenges. The Lions came close in South Africa (in 2009) and our ambition is to win the series in 2013 - and I believe we have the players to do that.

– Warren Gatland
Gatland talks to the media at this morning's briefing Credit: Richard Morgan/ITV News Wales

Gatland, 48, will coach Wales in their autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia but otherwise he will be seconded full-time to the Lions.

The Lions had initially planned to hold the announcement in April but were forced into a delay after Gatland broke both his heels in a fall at his house in Waikato.

I am really honoured to have been asked to take the position of head coachI 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 next year.

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."

– Warren Gatland

"It has been no secret that after the initial selection process, Warren was our preferred candidate," tour manager Andy Irvine.

Gatland coached Ireland for three years between 1998 and 2001 before taking charge at Wasps, where he won a hat-trick of Premiership titles and the Heineken Cup.

In 2006, he moved back to New Zealand and coached his native Waikato to the New Zealand provincial title before Wales came calling.

Gatland took charge of a Wales side that had just crashed out of the pool stages of the World Cup and he made an immediate impact, guiding them to the first of two Grand Slam titles during his tenure.

The second was this year and it followed hot on the heels of Wales' greatest World Cup performance since 1987, when they came agonisingly close to beating France to earn a place in the final.

Gatland will become the second New Zealander to lead the Lions on tour to Australia, after Graham Henry's failed attempt to beat the Wallabies in 2001.

Rob Howley led Wales on their summer tour of Australia in Gatland's injury-enforced absence and will continue in that role through the 2013 RBS 6 Nations.