Warren Gatland has highlighted Irish boss Andy Farrell’s credentials to coach the 2025 British and Irish Lions in Australia.
Gatland is back for a second stint as head coach of Wales which could join the 2027 World Cup.
And that could mean he’s in the frame to lead the Lions for the fourth time, having done the job in Australia (2013), New Zealand (2017) and South Africa (2021).
Farrell, however, is doing an outstanding job with Ireland, overseeing a historic Test Series triumph over New Zealand earlier this year.
They added the scalps of South Africa and Australia in an unbeaten Autumn Nations Series campaign, with Ireland also currently top of the world rugby union rankings.
“If you’re picking a Lions coach at the moment, I think there’s only one person in the running,” Gatland told a news conference at the Principality Stadium on Tuesday.
“And he’s across the water and living in Dublin at the minute. If you are successful, these opportunities arise.
“I hadn’t even thought about it (the Lions tour). I’m only thinking about the next 10 months.
“I am well aware of the importance of the Six Nations and the World Cup next year.
“I don’t plan my route. I believe that if you are in the right place at the right time, then opportunities arise. What will be will be.”
Gatland said he had had no discussions so far with current Wales coaching support staff – such as 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 right now.
“I have to make sure I do the right thing and make the best decision for Wales and the team. It’s on the way at the moment.”
Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Cardiff on February 4.
Ireland will arrive as the top team in the world rankings, and Gatland said: “That’s probably good because they’re the best team in the world, and rightly so.
“Having them ride home first isn’t the worst thing. It’s a momentum tournament. You win your first game and you have a good chance of doing well.
“To put them first, that’s probably the game you want at home – playing against the better team where there’s probably a bit more pressure on them.
“I think we will be very happy to prepare for the match.
“My upbringing in New Zealand, we always believed that if you work hard you get results.
“That’s always been my attitude, I’ve never been afraid to take on anything and believe that if you do something you can do something special.
“I wouldn’t be here doing the job if I didn’t think we were capable of winning things.”