Young toured with the Lions in 1989, 1997 and 2001 and is currently director of rugby at Cardiff Blues.
He admits he wants the Welsh job but hopes Gatland will see out the remainder of his contract, taking him to 2015.
But the opportunity to take the reins of Wales could come earlier than that, if Gatland's men flop at the World Cup.
"I wouldn't be so arrogant as to make any assumptions," Young told the South Wales Echo. "But I hope to be in a position where I can apply to be the next Wales coach.
"I would like to see Warren see out the next four years, in that time I could expand my development, knowledge and experience.
"I've never felt ready to do the job in the past, but with the experience I now have I would like to think the WRU know what I can do. I want to coach at the highest level."
After several difficult years at the Blues, Young has since led the capital city region to the Heineken Cup semi-finals and EDF Cup glory during the 2008-9 season, and then the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2009-10.
The Blues have endured a mixed current season but remain in the chase for a Magners League play-off spot. They are also currently implementing budget cuts and Young realises his stock may fall if the region struggle.
"My early years at the Blues were difficult, but given the circumstances, they were always going to be.
"But we have since had some success and I want us to move that on in the coming few seasons.
"Results are obviously important, but sometimes it's about being in the right place at the right time," added Young.
"If the Wales job had become available two years ago when we were in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup, then I would probably have had a lot more support than at the end of a season when we had won nothing. You need that little bit of luck with these things.
"I happen to believe that we do have a lot of good coaches in Wales who aren't given the credit they are due.
"But, from my point of view, if I end up staying at the Blues for 10-12 years then I will have been there long enough.
"It will be time to progress my career and the next step is to move into international rugby. If I can't do that with Wales, I will probably have to look elsewhere."
Young has gained some much-needed international experience through his work with the Barbarians and he is set to take charge of the invitational side again this summer.
"It's given me the chance to work with international players and yes, that has been useful.
"The Blues have been very supportive of me working with the Barbarians and I'm thankful for that.
"We've had varying success and, while you can't plan in the same way as a full-on Test team, it's still a different challenge."
The Baa-Baas face Wales at the Millennium Stadium as Young and Gatland go to head. And the former tight-head admits it will be a surreal experience pitting his wits against Wales and several of his Cardiff players.
"It will be strange to be trying to beat Wales because I am a proud Welshman. But we will be coming with a strong squad and the aim will be to win.
"In that respect, I have to be professional. It's no different to Shaun Edwards wanting to beat England in the Six Nations just gone or Warren Gatland trying to beat New Zealand back in the autumn.
"You have a job to do and your job is to get the best of your players.
"Our squad could change a number of times between now and the game because of club commitments. But the Barbarians are conscious of their reputation and always want the best players. They have a huge tradition."