British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has recalled how he dealt with the source of a leak in the Wales camp back in 2008.
Gatland was speaking with James Haskell on the latter’s What a Flanker podcast and told the story of how he was left perplexed and furious as team line-ups were being leaked to the media hours before being released at official press conferences.
Gatland coached Wales between 2007 – 2019 and was only months in the new job when the leaks started occurring during the Six Nations.
“I hate it if someone in the media gets hold of the team or leaks out the team,” Gatland told Haskell. “That really drives me crazy because that could come from somewhere internally. Those are the things that we can only control our environment.
“So not leaking information coming out of the environment is really important.
“When I got Martyn Williams back, it was going to be a big announcement. Before we announced the squad, someone had leaked it to the press two hours before.
“It wasn’t someone in the squad, but someone close to the squad.
“I somehow got the number of the person who had spoke to the journalist. It was an ex-player who was close to the team.
“I wrote it up on the wall and all the players then knew this is where the information came from.”
Gatland and Wales would go on to win the Grand Slam that year.
In the next few weeks, Gatland faces maybe the most high-profile squad announcement in the sport with the confirmation of the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad for South Africa.
The 57-year-old says he is yet to decide the exact time frame for letting the players know, but will do so in a manner that will stifle any attempts to reveal the squad in the media, with the vast bulk of the squad finding out on the day itself.
The first step is to find out if the potential selections are willing to tour at all, given the logistics and personal dynamics of the pandemic.
“It’ll probably be next week when I try to contact a number of players to get a feel for where they are at. I might have to change it and give everyone one now.
“It’s about contacting those players and saying you are on a list to be considered for the tour.
“The last thing I want to do is pick a squad and then have half a dozen players pull out, but I wouldn’t hold it against any player and I’d understand their personal situation of being away from home, family and the challenges that’s going to bring.”
'And there was this one training session when he passed the ball to Alex King and he had enough and he just threw the ball back and said ‘I’m not taking that s*** anymore'https://t.co/MUdZxeuFWB
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 18, 2021
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