McGeechan mulls Irvine’s Lions offer

BRITISH and Irish Lions icon Sir Ian McGeechan has hinted he could be tempted to go back on his word and return for another stint as coach.

McGeechan, a veteran of seven Lions tours, insisted after coaching in last year’s hard-fought expedition to South Africa that his long association with the team was at an end.

But Andy Irvine, installed yesterday as Lions manager for the next tour, to Australia in 2013, has made no secret of the fact that McGeechan is his primary target for the role. And the Scot, 63, currently in a low-key position as performance director at Bath, last night admitted the lure of the Lions might be too strong to resist.

“Your enthusiasm for the Lions doesn’t change,” said McGeechan. “I’ve yet to speak to Andy about this. I need to have those sort of conversations. I know what I said at the time but here we are, talking about it, and it all starts to look exciting again.”

Fellow Scot Irvine also admitted interest in Warren Gatland, but his new contract with Wales makes McGeechan the clear favourite.

“His record speaks for itself, he’s Lions through to the core and did a fantastic job on the last tour,” said Irvine. “He has to be a consideration. If Ian throws his hat into the ring we’d seriously have to look at it.”

Australia tour to begin with Hong Kong date

HONG KONG will stage a British and Irish Lions match for the first time as a curtain-raiser to the team’s next tour. The Lions will kick off their voyage to Australia in 2013 with a fixture against the Barbarians on the island. Bank HSBC, meanwhile, has extended its sponsorship of the team until after the tour.