Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Lionheart Ian McGeechan assembles coaching pack


British Lions head coach Ian McGeechan, second left, poses with a team jersey with fellow coaches Rob Howley, left, Shaun Edwards, right, and Warren Gatland after the jersey and coaches for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa were unveiled in Dublin on Wednesday.


Ian McGeechan may be several months away from coaching the Lions on a tour of South Africa but that hasn’t stopped the Scot from announcing his backroom staff.

McGeechan, a former tourist as a player and coach, described the tour as the equivalent of “seven Six Nations games and three World Cup finals.”

He has appointed the Wales Grand Slam-winning trio of Warren Gatland (forwards), Shaun Edwards (defense) and Rob Howley (attack) to work under him as he looks to repeat his 1997 feat of guiding the British Isles to a series win in South Africa.

Many have questioned how the Lions, whose origins lie in the days when the Home Unions of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales didn’t routinely tour the southern hemisphere as separate nations, could survive in the professional era.

And those questions became even more pointed after the last Lions tour four years ago in New Zealand when a team coached by England’s World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward were humiliated by the All Blacks.

But McGeechan is in no doubt about the enduring worth of the Lions.

“The Lions is still probably the most important thing for a player, even in this professional age,” he said after unveiling his coaching line-up on Wednesday.

“That is why I will get the most satisfaction, if I see a group of winning players, because I know how much it means to them.”

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