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Robertson keen to assist British-Irish Lions in South Africa

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Super Rugby-winning Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says he has offered to assist fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland in coaching the British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa next year.

Robertson, who coached the Crusaders to the Super Rugby Aotearoa title this season after winning the full Super Rugby tournament in each of the previous three years, said in a radio interview Friday his offer is being considered by Lions management. The regular Super Rugby competition was shuttered in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m waiting. We’ll see what happens,” Robertson said. “Obviously there’s a lot to work out with COVID and the British and Irish Lions tour. But we had a couple good conversations since, and (Gatland) has got to go through his line of management to make a decision.”

Robertson, 45, said he approached Gatland after missing out on the All Blacks head coaching role last season. New Zealand Rugby appointed Ian Foster, the former assistant under Steve Hansen at the All Blacks, in part citing Robertson’s lack of international coaching experience.

“Once I missed the All Blacks job I actually reached out to Gats and asked him if I could go on that tour,” Robertson said. “I thought, if I can’t be involved with the All Blacks, what’s the biggest thing - or actually bigger in its own self the Lions tour — to get involved. I said ‘Look, I would love to help you if I can.’”

Gatland returned to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs in the 2020 Super Rugby season after 12 years as head coach of the Wales national team. He was also head coach of the British and Irish Lions on tours to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017 and was retained for the 2021 tour to South Africa, the current World Cup champions.

Robertson said he wanted to increase his exposure to coaching at the international level. “Obviously (Gatland) has been hugely successful at the international level as a coach so he’s a person to learn off and also allows me to not have to go offshore to actually coach and get that international experience,” he said.

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