Warren Gatland names Lions assistants

Last updated 00:47 13/12/2012

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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland snubbed longtime No. 2 Shaun Edwards by choosing Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley in his coaching team for next year's tour of Australia.

Rowntree, England's forwards coach, and Howley, the attack coach with Wales, were retained from the backroom staff that toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009.

However, Edwards was overlooked for the role of defence coach in favour of the highly rated Farrell, who is also part of England's coaching team and will be on his first Lions tour as a player or coach.

''I am delighted with today's appointments and confident that Rob, Graham, Andy and myself can come together quickly to face one of the hardest rugby challenges,'' Gatland said.

Edwards and Gatland have enjoyed considerable success together for the past decade, linking up first for a trophy-laden spell with London Wasps in the English Premiership from 2002-05. Edwards has worked under Gatland for Wales since 2008, during which time the team has won two Grand Slams in the Six Nations.

It will have been a difficult decision for Gatland to break up one of the northern hemisphere's top coaching partnerships but he has been impressed with Farrell's recent work with Saracens and then England.  

''To be honest, picking Andy is a bit of a selfish appointment,'' Gatland said.

''It gives me the chance to work with someone with fresh ideas who I haven't worked with before. It will enable me to develop and look at the game differently as well.''

The Lions tour begins on June 1, when the representative side from the four home unions plays the Barbarians in Hong Kong. The first of three tests against Australia will take place in Brisbane on June 22.

The Lions have not won a test series since beating South Africa in 1997. 

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- AP

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