Brian O'Driscoll backs Warren Gatland for Lions role in 2017

The Wales head-coach has been part of the previous two tours in 2009 and 2013

BY Daniel Kelly 09:43 Friday 8 April 2016, 9:43 8 Apr 2016

Head coach Warren Gatland and Brian O'Driscoll during the 2013 Lions tour. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Former Lions and Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has backed Warren Gatland to lead the Lions next year in the team's ten-match tour of New Zealand.

The Dubliner played on four Lions tours in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013. He was famously dropped by Gatland for the final test against Australia in 2013 which the Lions won 41-16.

Speaking to The Telegraph, O'Driscoll revealed that he thinks the Wales coach is the man to lead the team next year. "You have to think it’s between Gats and Joe Schmidt and I think having been under Gats in 2013 – and he was a coach in 2009 as well – his style is probably something that lends itself to the short lead-in time."

Gatland may be seen as a safe choice by the Lions hierarchy to take charge of the team against his native country next year. In 2013, he became the second foreigner (after Graham Henry) to lead the team. The 52-year-old may become the third man to be head-coach on back-to-back tours. James Baxter was head-coach in 1927 and 1930. Ian McGeechan led the team on three tours in a row in 1989, 1993 and 1997.

Manu Tuilagi offloads to Brian O'Driscoll during the 2013 Tour. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Over his four tours, O'Driscoll started eight test matches and he thinks there should be an English-Welsh combination in the centre for the first test against New Zealand on June 24th next year. "Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Davies… I will get absolutely lambasted in Wales for not picking Roberts but I think you have to have Manu in there and I don’t think you play him and Jamie together."

The tour begins on June 3rd with a match against the New Zealand Barbarians.

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