Warren Gatland says there were times he “hated” the British and Irish Lions tour due to the personal nature of attacks made against him.
The New Zealander oversaw a drawn series against his home country, with the Lions earning a thrilling 15-15 draw at Eden Park on Saturday following a win apiece in the first two Tests.
However, he did so amid a hostile atmosphere from the media in his homeland, with the New Zealand Herald depicting Gatland as a clown before the second Test, which the Lions won in Wellington.
Gatland made light of that mock-up by wearing a clown’s nose at a post-match media conference after the third Test, and he feels the treatment he received showed there were concerns about the All Blacks’ chances.
“In the past people have come to New Zealand and haven’t been quite prepared about culturally what you’re facing,” said Gatland.
“There are strengths in New Zealand as a nation, in terms of the isolation and being so far away, and galvanising themselves to have a go at anything. But there can be cracks at times as well.
“The All Blacks are hardly ever vulnerable, but last week there were a few comments made that I hadn’t expected.
“Someone mentioned the result and said that if they lost the sun would still come up tomorrow and it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and they would learn from that experience. Those are comments that you don’t hear very often coming out of the New Zealand camp.
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 9, 2017
“My wife asked me about three weeks into the tour, she said ‘how are you enjoying the tour?’ and I said ‘I’m hating it’.
“You don’t publicly show that something’s affecting you. I don’t mind people criticising me tactically or the way that we play, but I thought some of the stuff was quite personal. And, as a Kiwi, I found that quite challenging to be perfectly honest.
“You’ve got to put that aside and move on. I’m not a person who trawls through every newspaper and media and stuff but you hear what’s going on.
“You try really hard to make sure that doesn’t affect you; you’ve got to make sure you’re relaxed and calm.
“That’s important the staff and players see you as the person in charge and in control of whatever’s going on out there.”