British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland insists he can lead the team to only their second ever series win over the All Blacks when they tour his native New Zealand next summer.
Gatland, who led the Lions to a 2-1 triumph in Australia in 2013, was confirmed for a second stint in charge on Wednesday and has taken an immediate sabbatical from the Wales job.
“I am incredibly excited. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we had the ability to go to New Zealand and win,” said the 52-year-old.
“It’s massive. Having played against the Lions, I know what it means to face the Lions and have that opportunity. To go to New Zealand and lead the team against back-to-back world champions, consistently the best team in the world, in their back yard is no bigger challenge.”
Gatland is due to fly to New Zealand on Thursday to identify hotels and training venues and plans to name his backroom team on 7 December.
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has again stepped up to deputise for Gatland for the autumn internationals and the Six Nations, as he did four years ago.