Robin McBryde spoke of his immense pride after being appointed Wales caretaker coach for the summer tour to the United States and Canada.
He will stand in for Warren Gatland, who was yesterday unveiled as part of the 2009 British and Irish Lions management team alongside fellow Wales coaches Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley.
McBryde, a former Wales and Lions hooker, will be assisted by Neil Jenkins and one other coach yet to be appointed.
“It is a great honour to lead Wales on tour for two important Test matches which will prove to be a challenging test of our progress as a squad,” said McBryde.
“It is inevitable that some members of our senior squad will be heading for South Africa as Lions.
“This is a great opportunity for some players to step up and prove that our coaching strategies and processes are creating real competition for the coveted Welsh jersey.
“I will be working closely with Warren and the team in the preparation phase for the tour but the chance to be the man in charge for the games is a challenge I am relishing.”
Gatland, who recommended McBryde for the role, sees the opportunity for him to take charge as an important step in Wales’ head coach succession planning.
“Robin has proved he is entirely worthy of this opportunity to step up and take on the ultimate responsibility as coach at international level,” said Gatland.
“He is widely known for his talent and uncompromising qualities as a player, but all of us in the national coaching team know he has a lot more to offer Wales.
“Robin has the technical expertise, the strategic understanding and the man management skills to take on new responsibilities and challenges as a coach.
“Part of my role is to structure a coaching succession policy and that will only be achieved if key individuals are given the opportunities to develop their skills under pressure.
“Robin will be his own man but we will also be in regular contact to talk through his plans.”