Gatland agrees to coach British & Irish Lions in 2021 - sources

Warren Gatland is set to take charge of the British & Irish Lions for a third successive time. Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Warren Gatland has verbally agreed to become head coach of the British & Irish Lions for the tour of South Africa in 2021, sources have told ESPN. The Telegraph first reported the agreement.

Gatland's 12 years in charge of Wales comes to an end following the Rugby World Cup later this year and the Lions have moved quickly to secure his services ahead of the tournament in Japan. The New Zealander was being monitored by England as a potential replacement for Eddie Jones, should he leave his position after the World Cup.

Gatland is set to coach the Lions for a record third successive time after leading the team in 2013 and 2017, where the Lions and the All Blacks played out a historic series draw in New Zealand.

Reports say the coach is to sign a deal next week and a public announcement is expected to take place ahead of Wales' first World Cup training camp next month.

The 55-year-old has led Wales to four Six Nations titles during his 12-year tenure, including a third Grand Slam earlier this year. Wales also reached the semifinals of the World Cup in 2011 and head into the tournament this year ranked as the second best team in the world and on the back of a 14-game winning run.

Gatland coached the British & Irish Lions to a series victory in Australia in 2013 before the historic series draw in New Zealand two years ago.