Stuart Lancaster is under serious consideration to return to international rugby with the British and Irish Lions.
Lancaster has not coached at Test level since his England team crashed out in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup on home turf.
But so impressively has he rebuilt his reputation at Leinster, whom he has guided to back-to-back European Cup finals, winning in 2018, that Lions boss Warren Gatland has spoken to him about next summer’s tour of South Africa.
Gatland told the Will Greenwood podcast: “I've spoken to Stuart and we've had a couple of conversations.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to Stuart. He finished with England, then he's gone away and he's done some professional development.
"There's no doubt what he's done and the impact that he's had since his time with Leinster. He'd say that he's definitely improved as a coach and I have a huge amount of respect for him.
"We met before the last tour and he spoke to me about his opinions on the Leinster players and the Irish players and gave me an insight into them and I appreciated that.
"He's definitely one person that I've spoken to and had a couple of conversations with him, but there's a number of other people that I'll be looking to talk to.”
Gatland also gave assurances that Saracens players who ply their trade in English rugby’s second tier next season will not be disadvantaged in Lions tour selection.
"It's not as if those players aren't experienced or haven't achieved at the highest level,” he said. “And a lot of them who have been involved with England or been on previous Lions tours have been very much at the top of the game.
"So I don't really have any concerns and worries about what state they're going to be in, because I think they're going to get enough top-level rugby before the tour.”
Chris Robshaw’s Harlequins clubmates have vowed to give him a glorious send-off ahead of his move to US rugby.
Lancaster's former England captain has signed a two-year deal with San Diego Legion but agreed to delay his departure to finish the Premiership season with his lifelong club.
Alex Dombrandt admits to having worshipped Robshaw growing up and says the Londoners, who host the first game back after lockdown against Sale on Friday week, intend to make his last few months memorable.
“Chris has been massive,” he said. “When I was growing up he was a player I idolised and watched on TV. Now I am rubbing shoulders with him, training with him and sat in the changing room next to him.
“His work ethic is second to none, he is a legend of the game and hopefully we can give him a send-off he will remember going into his next chapter.”
Quins lie seventh in the table, seven points off the top-four place required to make the end of season play-offs with nine games to play.
The last time they played Sale they were thrashed 48-10 and that six tries to one hammering suggests they have work to do to turn the tables at an empty Stoop.
But Dombrandt said: “We have 100 per cent belief that we can win the league. We need to be more consistent in our performances but we know when we are good, we are really good.
“If we start putting in big performances there is no reason we can't start to compete with the top dogs.”
Quins lost one of their strike weapons yesterday when 22-year-old wing Gabriel Ibitoye signed a two-year deal with French club Agen. Jamie Roberts, another former Quin, has signed for Dragons.
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