Eddie Jones has become the early favourite to coach the Lions in their tour of South Africa in 2021 according to the Evening Standard.
Warren Gatland has revealed that he is “done” with tours. This follows personal attacks that he received during and after the series in New Zealand this summer.
Jones’ contract with England finishes at the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan in November 2019.
It is speculated that the England head coach could form a set up with backs coach Gregor Townsend.
Townsend was wanted by Gatland in the Lions’ tour of New Zealand this year. Townsend instead opted for Scotland’s tour of Australia, taking over from Vern Cotter.
Irish flanker Sean O’Brien attacked Gatland’s coaching set-up after the tour while The New Zealander also faced unfavourable scrutiny in his homeland throughout the visit.
Wales head coach Gatland revealed: “I wouldn’t subject myself to that again. Let someone else do it. I’m done. I hated the tour.
“I just hated the press and the negativity in New Zealand. When I look back on it now, there were a lot of things that were satisfying and what an achievement it was, but it was tough work.
“I was disappointed, I have to be honest. It took a bit of the gloss off the tour. No one in the history of the game has ever taken on a tour of that magnitude or difficulty. Then, to have someone come out and make a comment like that, it really, really did hurt.”
Gatland was the Lions’ assistant coach for the 2009 tour and led the Lions to a 2013 tour victory in Australia. Like Jones, Gatland’s contract with Wales ends after the 2019 World Cup.
Jones has claimed, earlier in 2017, that he was open to coaching the Lions in their tour of South Africa in 2021.
“I am open to everything," the England head coach stated.
“I don’t sit there at night and think, ‘I hope I am going to be the next Lions coach’. It is such a unique job which is decided at a certain time — and if you are in the market, then you are going to get a call. I wouldn’t say no but I am not saying yes.”