Ed Elliot, PA
Grand Slam-winning Ireland boss Andy Farrell is the “perfect guy” to be the next British and Irish Lions head coach, according to two-time tourist Tommy Bowe.
Farrell has significantly enhanced his coaching reputation over the past 18 months, clinching the Guinness Six Nations title on Saturday having led his side to the top of the world rankings on the back of last summer’s stunning series win over the All Blacks.
Former Ireland and Ulster wing Bowe represented the Lions during the 2009 trip to South Africa and the 2013 visit to Australia.
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And he believes Farrell, who served as Lions defence coach in 2013 and 2017, is the ideal candidate to spearhead the 2025 series against Eddie Jones’ Wallabies following three tours overseen by Warren Gatland.
“I think he would be a fantastic Lions coach,” Bowe told the PA news agency. “He gets the ethos of it.
“He loves everything about the Lions and to have toured with him in 2013, he epitomises what’s great about it.
“He’s very much about working extremely hard on the pitch but also being able to have a laugh off the pitch and I think that’s what the Lions is. The last tour (to South Africa in 2021), I think unfortunately got away from that.
“I think the next Lions tour, it’s about bringing back the ethos of what’s special about the Lions and making sure that the players really enjoy every minute of it, and the supporters too.
“I think Andy Farrell would be the perfect guy to do that.”
Farrell is the odds-on favourite for the role and has also received the backing of Gatland.
Having initially joined the Ireland set-up in 2016 as assistant to Joe Schmidt, the 47-year-old has fully emerged from the shadow of his revered predecessor after taking over following the 2019 World Cup.
Bowe has been impressed by Farrell’s progress since stepping up.
“I’ve always had huge respect for him,” said the 39-year-old. “He’s a great character among the squad, a wonderful motivator of players.
“But it’s very difficult to go from the number two to the number one. It’s a completely different ball game and I did wonder if he could come out of the shadow of Joe Schmidt.
“Joe Schmidt is the most successful (Ireland coach) of all-time, it will be hard to beat Joe Schmidt in terms of the three Six Nations titles, one of those was a Grand Slam, beating New Zealand for the first time ever, and he was a controlling presence on the squad.
“I felt that to try and put your own stamp on it would be very difficult and Andy Farrell has managed to do that, and it took time.
“Of course there are question marks when any new coach comes in, there’s always going to be a bedding in period. But to see the way they’re playing now, I just love how they’ve evolved where the game is.”