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Shaun Edwards expresses interest in being part of British and Irish Lions staff

Published 23/01/2016

Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards is keen to be part of the 2017 British and Irish Lions coaching staff
Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards is keen to be part of the 2017 British and Irish Lions coaching staff

Shaun Edwards has expressed his interest in being part of the 2017 British and Irish Lions coaching staff.

Wales defence expert Edwards is likely to be among the main contenders for that specialist role in New Zealand.

His Wales boss Warren Gatland is a firm favourite to be appointed head coach for the 10-game, three-Test tour, retaining the role he performed when the 2013 Lions triumphed in Australia.

Edwards was not involved on that trip, but he did travel to South Africa four years earlier as Lions defence coach.

"I would be interested in going on another Lions tour," said Edwards, who recently signed a new four-year deal with the Welsh Rugby Union.

"Every Lions tour is special, but when you are playing the world champions, it is doubly so."

The Lions head coach announcement is not expected until later this year, and Edwards' immediate focus is the RBS 6 Nations Championship, with Wales then heading to New Zealand for a three-Test tour in June.

Reflecting on his new Wales deal, which incorporates the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Edwards added: "Obviously, if anyone offers you a contract, then they are showing faith in you.

"To offer a four-year deal as well, it shows a lot of faith in me to do the job.

"I am very happy here. I like the way we work, and I like the people I work with. I respect the players I coach - they are very coachable. The thing I want to get on with is trying to win another Six Nations.

"The first thing we have got to do is try to get back to the level we finished at the World Cup (last October), when we were within a few points of South Africa.

"If we can get back to that, then we are in with a chance. As you get more time together, you will aim to improve."

Gatland claimed earlier this week that this season's Six Nations has an air of unknown quantity about it, particularly with England and France being spearheaded by new coaches in Eddie Jones and Guy Noves, respectively.

Gatland, Edwards and company were in an identical position eight years ago as a new-look Wales coaching team prepared for Six Nations business, but the outcome was spectacular, with Wales going on to be crowned Grand Slam champions.

"There is a school of thought which says that when a new coach comes in there is a raising of intensity," Edwards said.

"But the difficulty with being a new coach - introducing a new style of play, etc - is that in the Six Nations you only have two weeks to prepare. So, obviously, there is a balancing act with that.

"Fortunately, when we came in in 2008, we won a Grand Slam straight away. I've got to say that along the way in doing that, a number of games could have gone either way.

"So, there is no doubt that in elite level sport it is about very fine margins.

"As regards putting a defensive system in, it depends on what the system was before. If you have people who are used to defending in a similar way, it can be easier.

"I was lucky in that when I came in with Wales, the Ospreys had a similar defensive system to the one I wanted to implement. That helped me massively, there is no doubt about that.

"If they had defended in a more traditional sense - an 'up and out' way that most teams were using at that time, then it would have been much more difficult. So, for me, and I can only speak for myself - I can't speak for Eddie Jones or for France - it was a big help."

Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against reigning champions Ireland in Dublin on February 7.

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