Rugby: Robertson still keen to lend Lions a hand where he can

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said any role he had with the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa next year would not have to be in a formal assistant coaching position.

Robertson said last month that he had approached Lions coach Warren Gatland, a fellow New Zealander, about a spot on the tour to gain some international experience.

The request was not welcomed in some quarters and Ian McGeechan, who coached the Lions on four tours, wrote that Gatland needed assistants better acquainted with the northern hemisphere game and players.

Robertson told New Zealand media he was still waiting to hear back from Lions organisers and was willing to help out where he could.

“It was a chance for me to grow as a person and teach with people with different mindsets and skill sets and be in such a special group. Nothing has changed from that,” he told

“I am happy to help Andy Farrell out with the defence, to have more of a specialised role to allow him to get the best out of the group.

“You need a hand. You’ve got test matches, and midweek games. Coaching staffs are big, they’ve got a lot of players.”

Robertson, as McGeechan said in his newspaper column, is considered one of the best coaches in the world after leading the Crusaders to four straight Super Rugby titles.

He missed out on the New Zealand job to Ian Foster last year and his Crusaders contract expires at the end of next year.

“I’ve got the energy and passion, probably, to go a lot longer, but I’m also mindful of the timing with opportunities elsewhere,” he added.

“All Blacks jobs, international roles, so my eyes are wide open. I’m a Crusader, my loyalty is here. But there is going to be a point in time when I have to make a decision that is right for my coaching career.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford