Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Gatland vows not to rise to New Zealand media barbs

By Iain Strachan
Wales coach Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland was surprised by the intense criticism he received at the hands of the New Zealand press during the British and Irish Lions tour but has no intention of rising to more barbs ahead of Wales’ Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.


New Zealander Gatland was pilloried in the media of his home country as he led the Lions to a drawn series against the world champions in June and July.

The 54-year-old is now back in his regular role as Wales coach and, speaking to reporters ahead of another meeting with his compatriots at Principality Stadium this weekend, it is clear the friendly fire he endured earlier this year has left some scars.

“I was surprised by it,” he said.

“Some people might have said that was me being naive. I hadn’t expected personal criticism from day one but that’s passed. It made me strong, it made me more resilient, it made me want to fight harder.

“If there’s criticism of me this week, I won’t be responding to it because there’s no point, you can’t win. At some stage I’ll probably be dressed up as a clown again this week,” he added, referring to a notorious newspaper image.

“There was some pretty underhand stuff going on and it was challenging. [There’s] one or two people I’d like to get into a room with me but that might have to wait for another day.”

Responding to suggestions there is a feud between Gatland and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, the Wales boss replied: “People are trying to make something out of myself and Steve. I don’t think there’s anything between Steve and myself. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.


“I look forward to catching up with him after the game. We all understand the pressures that we’re under.”

Gatland does not know if star back Liam Williams will be available to face the All Blacks, saying: “He had a bit of an abdominal thing. We’re going to wait for another 24 hours. We’ll assess him and the forwards and see how they come through. [Flanker] Justin Tipuric is in training, [prop] Samson Lee is still struggling.”

Finally, Gatland dismissed claims of poor gamesmanship after Wales did not send Leon Brown back on when Tomas Francis was sin-binned late in the Test win at home to Georgia on Saturday, leaving the hosts unable to contest scrums during a dramatic conclusion.

“We weren’t trying to pull a fast one,” he said.

“Even before Leon comes off, you can see he’s been treated, the way that he’s walking, he’s trying to recover. We weren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.”


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

13 Go to comments
FEATURE Paris Olympics: Men's rugby sevens team-by-team guide Paris Olympics: Men's rugby sevens team-by-team guide