Luke Fitzgerald Knows Why Schmidt, Jones & Townsend Turned Down Lions Roles

Jacques Brunel, Warren Gatland, Joe Schmidt, Eddie Jones, Guy Noves and Vern Cotter 27/1/2016

Luke Fitzgerald believes Joe Schmidt, Eddie Jones and Gregor Townsend declined offers to be on the Warren Gatland’s Lions backroom team to keep their tactical ideas hidden.

Schmidt and Jones were believed to have been offered the head coach role, but did not want to take a year out from the national roles. It was hoped however, that at least one of them would have some role in New Zealand, but both declined.

Townsend was approached last week to take over as attack coach but declined so he could focus on Scotland’s tour of Australia. England forwards coach Steve Borthwick, Ireland defence specialist Andy Farrell and current Wales interim head coach Rob Howley will instead join Gatland in New Zealand next summer.

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Former Lions, Ireland and Leinster back, Luke Fitzgerald however thinks they turned down the role because they would have ambitions to take the head coach role down the line and they also wouldn’t want to share ideas with a rival like Gatland.

“It’s 100pc that and I’d say some of those people probably have some ambition to do that (Lions) job in the future.” Fitzgerald said on 2fm

“I know from working with Joe that he’s very creative and if I was him, I’d be looking to hold on to my ideas rather than give them away.

“Hopefully, he’ll be in a position to do the job the next time around, if that’s what he wants.

“I wouldn’t be giving away my ideas to a guy that I’m probably going to be facing ever year for the next three years.

“It probably makes sense really.”

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Despite the absence of the likes of Schmidt and Jones, who are considered as two of the best in the world right now, Fitzgerald believes Gatland has got the best coaching team at his disposal.

“I think there is a degree if familiarity with Rob Howley there, and you do want to put your own stamp on it. Rob will understand what that is from working with him for so long,” he added.

“I’m surprised that they were not able to get Gregor Townsend. I think he has been a bit of a leader coaching-wise for the last 4-5 years. He’s done a superb job with Glasgow.

“Warren did say that. He wanted a flavour from all four nations. I think it’s a strong coaching team. I think Andy Farrell is a superb addition.

“I think the blend is right and it’s the best he could get.

“I think someone like Joe Schmidt would have been superb because I think he is the best out there.”

What do you think? Does Fitzgerald have a point.

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor at RugbyLAD. Any queries big or small you can reach him at [email protected]
Jason Hennessy