And while the man charged with leading the Lions to a first series success since 1997 has already stated that he can't wait to get back on the training field when the party meet up for the first time next month, Irvine says his ability to select the right men tomorrow was a major consideration when he was handed the top job back in September.
"Coaching is only part of what you're looking for in the head coach of the Lions," said Irvine.
"Given that a lot of these players are very experienced and they will be on the tour because they are first class at what they do, Warren's job is to mould them together and make sure they get the game plans and strategy and so forth sorted.
"But at least 50 per cent is about combinations and the selection process. And if you look at Warren's track record over the last few years, it's been quite exceptional."
One area of Gatland's selection policy that stands out for Irvine is his willingness to give youth a chance on the big stage.
Much has been said of the need to combine experience and enthusiasm for the three-Test series with the Wallabies and Irvine doesn't expect age to be a barrier to a place on the plane on May 27.
"One of the things I particularly like about him is that he's been prepared to be bold," added Irvine.
"Compared to some of the other national coaches who have perhaps been seen as a little too conservative and against taking risks, Warren's belief is that if you're good enough, you're old enough.
"You look at the youngsters that he's brought through over the years - he's taken risks and these risks have come off. I've got huge admiration for him that."