Warren Gatland will take charge of the British and Irish Lions for next summer's tour of New Zealand.

Gatland, 52, will embark on his third tour, having served as assistant coach to Ian McGeechan in 2009 and leading the Lions to success in 2013, masterminding a 2-1 series success over Australia.

"It's a huge honour and when you get offered probably the biggest job in world rugby against the best opposition in world rugby, it's very difficult to walk away from it," Gatland told a press conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday (7 September).

"When I was offered the position it was definitely a 'yes' straight away."

Gatland takes up his new role with immediate effect with Rob Howley taking temporary charge of Wales in his absence. Ahead of the 2013 tour, the New Zealander oversaw Wales' autumn internationals, but this time around will commit himself solely to planning the Lions' next campaign.

Gatland is aiming to lead the Lions to their first success in New Zealand since 1971 when they set off for their 10-game tour next summer. They will meet the All Blacks in three Test matches, with the hosts unbeaten on home soil in seven years.

"The planning has started already," Gatland continued. "I'm incredibly excited and I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we had a chance to go to New Zealand and win.

"We've got some talented players with some experience as well. The players are very well aware of how important the next few months are. They will all be desperate to get on that plane and go on a tour, which is a massive challenge, but could be something very, very special."

The 2017 tour begins on June 3 next year and and concludes on 8 July.