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Lions Finalise 2009 Tour Coaching Staff

Lions Finalise 2009 Tour Coaching Staff

British & Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan and tour manager Gerald Davies announced at a press conference at Heathrow the final member of their coaching set-up for the 2009 tour to South Africa – Graham Rowntree.

Ian McGeechan and Gerald Davies were speaking at the first of a series of media briefings where they were also sharing their thoughts on the recent autumn Internationals.

The Lions head coach believes that the scrum will be a key battleground for next year’s tour; and so the appointment of Graham Rowntree, the former Leicester Tigers, England and Lions prop, is the final piece in the coaching jigsaw for McGeechan.

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He will be working alongside assistant coaches Warren Gatland (forwards), Shaun Edwards (defence) and Rob Howley (backs).

Davies said: “Graham is an unremitting professional who’ll bring much to our play against the South Africans.

“A rugged scrummager in his playing days but with a growing reputation now as a specialist coach, he is an important addition to the coaching team.”

McGeechan added: “I am delighted to have Graham on board. He brings with him a direct approach and an understanding of not only what we are looking to achieve as a coaching group but also an understanding of the Lions ethos.

“The scrum will be an intensely contested area in South Africa and we’ll need to be technically accurate at scrum time from the moment we arrive.

“It is crucial to have a forward pack that are technically as good as they can be against a renowned set of South African forwards.”

Rowntree joined the Lions pair at Heathrow and talked of how eager he was to make this a history-making tour.

“It is a tremendous honour to be asked to become involved with Geech’s coaching set-up,” he admitted.

“Having experienced both the highs and lows of Lions rugby as a player, I am determined to be part of a winning set-up in 2009 and am relishing the opportunity to work with the other coaches to make that happen.

“Geech is someone that I have an enormous amount of respect for and I cannot wait to play my part in contributing to a great rugby environment.”