Stuart Lancaster has been identified as a potential candidate to be appointed head coach of the Lions for the daunting tour of New Zealand next year, despite losing his job with England.

Warren Gatland is regarded as the front-runner for the coveted post after overseeing the 2013 series triumph in Australia, but the Wales coach and his fellow Kiwi in charge of Ireland, Joe Schmidt, have played down their prospects of earning the role.

Lancaster would be an outsider as he is currently out of work, but he may yet come into contention.

Speaking at the RBS Six Nations launch, John Feehan, the Lions' chief executive, said: "I am certainly not ruling anybody out at this stage. He (Lancaster) has a lot of the credentials you could potentially look for in a Lions coach, but right now we have got to wait and see how the results go over the Six Nations and the June series and then make a more informed decision."


Schmidt claimed that his deal with the IRFU would prevent him from taking on the Lions head coach role, which requires a full-time commitment for at least six months prior to the tour.

"The terms of my current contract don't allow me to do the Lions," he said, matter-of-factly.

"It isn't something I can do unless the terms of my contract change."

However, Feehan remained open-minded about the option of being able to recruit Schmidt, saying: "We are aware of the contractual position of all the coaches. Those things can always be discussed. People change their minds, unions change their minds, employers change their minds."

Gatland has already had an assurance from the Welsh Rugby Union that they would release him for Lions duties if he is called on to lead another tour.

But on Wednesday, he emphasised the down-sides of taking on the onerous task. When informed about Schmidt's comments, he said: 'He can have the job. Have you seen the schedule? Going to New Zealand and you play three Tests, five Super Rugby teams and the New Zealand Maori, and you try and win there? With no preparation?

"I have been very lucky to be involved in a couple of tours and if you get offered the opportunity to be involved again it is a difficult one to turn down. But if you weren't involved and didn't get it you might say, 'Thank my lucky stars'."

- Daily Mail