Gregor Townsend has played down the possibility of being part of the British and Irish Lions coaching team next year, without categorically ruling it out.
Townsend will take over as Scotland head coach from Vern Cotter at the end of the season and, while the destination and dates have not been confirmed, a summer tour to Australia is expected and likely to be the focus of his attentions as he begins his new job.
The Lions, for whom Townsend starred in the 1997 series win over South Africa, tour New Zealand next summer from 3 June to 8 July and will announce their head coach – expected to be Warren Gatland – in Edinburgh a fortnight today.
Townsend was at yesterday’s Guinness Pro12 season launch in Dublin and the Glasgow Warriors coach was asked if last week’s announcement that he will assume the Scotland job means being part of the Lions set-up is now a non-starter.
“I wouldn’t know. Certainly, that’s all hypothetical,” he said. “The focus is on Glasgow. We’ve got ten months of hard work to do there. I’ve never coached the Lions before. I’m unavailable as a player, that’s for sure.
“No-one has spoken to me about Lions coaching.”
Townsend agreed that it is more likely that he will lead Scotland on tour.
“Yeah, that would be the plan,” he said. “After the Six Nations and obviously after the Glasgow season is finished, I move into that job.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Edinburgh No 8 Cornell du Preez, who becomes eligible for Scotland on residency grounds next month, will miss the start of the season after undergoing a clear-up operation on his ankle and the South Africa-born forward may struggle to be available for this year’s autumn Test series against Australia, Argentina and Georgia in November.
Edinburgh also announced that Stuart McInally and Grant Gilchrist will be co-captains for the forthcoming season, which starts next weekend.