Lions head-coach Warren Gatland says he knew "a long time ago" that Andy Farrell wouldn't be available to be part of his coaching team this summer.
Farrell has opted to focus on his position as Ireland head-coach rather than making the trip with the touring party to South Africa.
Scotland's Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy, Leinster's Robin McBryde and Wales' Neil Jenkins make up the backroom team.
“I’ve known for a long time that Andy Farrell wasn’t going to be available to us,” the former Wales boss revealed this afternoon. “We had been talking for a number of weeks so that wasn’t a decision last week that he wasn’t available.
“I spoke to Gregor about Steve and he was complimentary about the job he’s done over the last couple of years.
"We looked at their defence and it’s probably been the best in the Six Nations this year and last year. That was a relatively easy one in that we knew Andy wasn’t going to be available.”
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Gatland added that he understood Munster coach Graham Rowntree's decision to turn down a position for family reasons.
“My philosophy has always been ‘family first,’” said Gatland. “Graham had been trying to convince his family to come over from Leicester to Limerick for the last couple of years.
“They have finally moved over and trying to get them settled in, obviously with the challenges of Covid in the last year and stuff, so he just felt that being away for eight weeks – possibly 10 weeks if there’s quarantining as well – was too much.
“He just said he needed to be there for his family and to make sure his family is settled.”
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