Andy Farrell has been named as the next head coach of the British and Irish Lions and will lead the squad on their Tour of Australia in 2025.
The Ireland coach has described his appointment as an "honour and a privilege", as he fills the position vacated by long-time boss Warren Gatland.
Although Farrell never played in a Lions jersey, he was part of Gatland’s coaching staff on the 2013 and 2017 Tours, working as a defence coach.
That experience of what is involved to be part of a Lions camp should stand him in and the squad in good stead, as they seek back-to-back wins in Australia.
The British and Irish Lions last faced the Wallabies Down Under in 2013, when Gatland’s men came away with a 2-1 series victory. Since then, the Lions have tied a series in New Zealand in 2017, before losing 2-1 in South Africa in 2021.
Farrell enjoyed a successful spell in charge of Ireland – who are 11/8 to win the 2024 Six Nations – since taking the helm in 2019.
The men in green won the Grand Slam in 2023 and although they were frustrated not to get past the quarter-finals of the World Cup, they did sit top of the world rankings last year.
Farrell - whose son Owen made the Lions squad in 2021 - will also know some of the players in the England ranks, having worked with the Red Rose as assistant to Stuart Lancaster from 2011 to 2015.
Reacting to his appointment, the former Rugby League star said: "There is a wealth of talent across Britain and Ireland, and I am looking forward to building a team that can deliver the ultimate goal of success in Australia."
He added: "Mobilising that sea of red by creating a team that our fans can connect with and be proud of will be a key priority for me and will be crucial to our success."
One of the big decisions facing Farrell is to select who will captain the team on the Tour, with no standout candidate at this stage.
With his knowledge of the squad, an Irishman looks a strong possibility, although a replacement skipper is yet to be confirmed for the retiring Johnny Sexton.
Peter O’Mahoney has been mentioned as the potential new Ireland captain, which could then put the back row in line for the Lions role, although he would be 35 when the Tour takes place.
With Owen Farrell set to miss the Six Nations, the next England skipper will also be in contention to lead the Lions in Australia.
Steve Borthwick is expected to pick between prop Ellis Genge, lock Courtney Lawes, hooker Jamie George and lock Maro Itoje.
With Genge and Lawes currently vice-captains, they look the most likely candidates to lead England into this year’s Six Nations, which they are 6/1 to win.
The British and Irish Lions will play a fixture in Ireland for the very first time, as part of their preparations for the Wallabies series.
That Test against Argentina - 33/1 to win the 2027 World Cup - will take place in Dublin on Friday, 20th June, before the squad fly Down Under for the Tour, with five other warm-up games before the first Test match.
Saturday, 28th June
Wednesday, 2nd July
New South Wales Warratahs
Saturday, 5th July
Wednesday, 9th July
Invitational AU-NZ side
Saturday, 12th July
Australia – First Test
Saturday, 19th July
Wednesday, 22nd July
Australia – Second Test
Saturday, 26th July
Australia – Third Test
Saturday, 2nd August
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