Warren Gatland has entered informal conversations about the possibility of a third stint at the helm of the British and Irish Lions when the team travel to South Africa in 2021.

Gatland, who will relinquish his post as Welsh head coach after this year's World Cup, first took the reins of the Lions in 2012 and led the team on his first tour a year later in Australia.

Speaking at a Welsh rugby Union event in Cardiff earlier this week, the 55-year-old said a return to the role was "definitely a possibility."

Gatland told a group of Welsh supporters he would be taking some time away from the game after the World Cup, but was open to returning to the Lions for the 12 months in the lead up to their South African tour.


He would be just the second coach to lead the Lions on three successive tours if he does return to the role, following on from Sir Ian McGeechan.

Speaking to BBC, a Lions spokesperson said: "There will be a number of candidates looked at for the position of British and Irish Lions head coach for the 2021 tour.

"That process hasn't begun yet, but decisions will be made in due course. The recruitment process has not yet been agreed."

Gatland had initially suggested he could return for a third stint with the Lions after the 2017 tour of New Zealand, but later indicated he had a change of heart.

"I'm done. I hated the tour. I did. I just hated the press and the negativity in New Zealand," Gatland said in October of 2017.

"What I've learned from my Lions' experiences is how difficult it is to put some continuity together in terms of people and staff, and the lack of preparation time. Let someone else do it. Let someone else reinvent the wheel."