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Glasgow coach Townsend plays down Lions role link

Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend will take over as Scotland head coach at the end of the season

Gregor Townsend has played down speculation he could be part of Warren Gatland’s coaching team on next summer’s British and Irish Lions tour.

The Glasgow Warriors head coach, 43, will replace Vern Cotter as Scotland coach at the end of the season.

However, Gatland has hinted that he could ask him to join up with the Lions for the tour to New Zealand.

“I’ve never been approached or talked to about a Lions coaching role,” said Townsend, who won two Lions caps.

Townsend is due to lead Scotland on their summer tour at the end of the current campaign, but any involvement with the Lions would mean a delayed start to his spell as national coach.

At the official launch of the Lions kit for next year’s series against the All Blacks, Gatland did little to diffuse reports that Townsend is high on his list of potential assistants.

“Gregor has done really well, particularly with Glasgow,” said Gatland.

“He already has time with Scotland and with the experience he got there, he has gone back to Glasgow and implemented a lot of the things he learned from international rugby.

“It is pleasing from my point of view to see a coach go, learn, get experience and take that back.”

Townsend though says there has been no contact from anybody in the Lions camp regarding a possible coaching role.

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Townsend was a key member of the Lions side that secured a series victory over world champions South Africa in 1997

“I’ve never coached the Lions before so it seems wrong to be talking about a job that has never been discussed or I’ve ever done before,” said Townsend, a key member of the Lions 1997 squad that triumphed in South Africa.

“My focus is firmly on Glasgow. This job is very difficult. It requires a lot of investment of time and effort, and that’s what’s going to take me right up until hopefully the end of May.

“After that the focus will turn on to a very exciting job and a really important job with Scotland.”

Glasgow take on Scarlets in the Pro12 this weekend hoping for a repeat of last season’s stunning victory in Wales.

Warriors ran in seven tries in a 46-10 demolition at Parc y Scarlets, and Townsend hopes his men can replicate that level of performance on Saturday.

“I’m sure the Scarlets will have looked at that game as well and that will be high motivation for them to make sure they play better.

“I think we caught them cold. I know they had some illnesses during the week and the way we started really set the game up for us.

“We were really sharp, we were aggressive and our ball-carries were strong. In defence we got a couple of tries off turnover. That probably just knocked their confidence.

“We got things right last season, we did work really hard for that and we’ve got to do that again.”