Warren Gatland has highlighted Ireland boss Andy Farrell’s credentials to coach the 2025 British and Irish Lions in Australia.
Gatland is back for a second stint as Wales head coach that could incorporate the 2027 World Cup.
And that might mean he is in the frame to lead the Lions for a fourth time, having done the job in Australia (2013), New Zealand (2017) and South Africa (2021).
Farrell, though, is doing an exceptional job with Ireland, overseeing an historic Test series triumph against New Zealand earlier this year.
They added the scalps of South Africa and Australia during an unbeaten Autumn Nations Series campaign, with Ireland also currently heading rugby union’s world rankings.
“If you are picking a Lions coach at the moment, there is only one person that I think is in contention,” Gatland said, during a Principality Stadium press conference on Tuesday.
“And he is across the water and living in Dublin at the minute. If you are successful, those opportunities come along.
“I hadn’t even thought about that (Lions tour). I am just thinking about the next 10 months.
“I am well aware of how important the Six Nations and World Cup are next year.
“I don’t plan my pathway. I am a believer of if you are in the right place at the right time, then opportunities come along. What will be, will be.”
Gatland said that he has not had any discussions so far with Wales’ current coaching support staff – the likes of Stephen Jones, Jonathan Humphreys and Gethin Jenkins – who worked alongside Wayne Pivac.
“I haven’t spoken to any of the coaches,” he added. “There was a review process conducted by the union, and I am going through that process at the moment.
“I’ve got to make sure that I do the right thing and make the best decision for Wales and the team. That’s ongoing at the moment.”
Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Cardiff on February 4.
Ireland will arrive as the world-ranked number one team, and Gatland said: “It’s probably good, as they are the best team in the world, and rightly so.
“Getting them first up at home is not the worst thing. It’s a tournament of momentum. You win your first game and you’ve got a good chance of doing well.
“To get them first up, it’s probably the one game you want at home – playing against the best team where there is probably a bit more pressure on them.
“I think we will be pretty excited about getting ready for the game.
“My upbringing in New Zealand, we always believed if you work hard, you get results.
“That has always been my attitude, never ever afraid to take something on and believe if you do something, you can do something special.
“I wouldn’t be here doing the job unless I thought we were capable of winning things.”