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Revealed: What Gatland does to bring best out of every Lions player

By Liam Heagney

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Lions full-back Stuart Hogg has delivered a compelling insight into how boss Warren Gatland motivationally pushes the buttons of every player he has on tour to repeatedly get the best out of them. Hogg has been on all three tours that have been led by the New Zealander and he has spoken from Cape Town about the way the coach rouses his players so that they deliver for him. 


Having defeated the Wallabies in the 2013 series and drawn the 2017 series with the All Blacks, the Lions head into Saturday’s second Test versus the Springboks 1-0 up following last weekend’s 22-17 series-opening win in South Africa.

It has left the tourists just one more win away from seeing Gatland potentially decorated as the greatest Lions coach of all time and Hogg, the Test-starting No15 who last month could only make the Exeter bench for the Gallagher Premiership final, has revealed how the Kiwi forensically goes about his business of winning.

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Jason Robinson’s history as a Lions tourist
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Jason Robinson’s history as a Lions tourist

“The thing that I like best about Warren is you never quite know where you sit with him, he challenges you on a daily basis,” beamed Hogg, who had to wait until his third Lions tour to finally make the Test team. “Sometimes you think you are having a very good conversation and all of a sudden he will challenge you on something and it will make you refocus and switch on. He brings the best out in everybody because of the mindset that he has got. 

Every little opportunity we have got in training, the training sessions have been between 25 minutes and 50 minutes long but as long as we are committed for the whole time we are on the training field and we make it as intense, as fast and as accurate as we possibly can he is very, very happy. He has been a part of two successful Lions tours and to be part of a third would be absolutely incredible.

“He is up there with the best coaches in World Rugby and that is the reason why he is the head gaffer of this job with the Lions. He has done an incredible job but I know fine well he is not finished. He wants to get everything out of everybody to make sure we are successful in the next couple of weeks and then he can then enjoy a glass of red afterwards and chill out.”


Where Gatland is especially motivational is how he has involved players’ families in this latest Lions tour even though they are all having to watch from home rather than be there in person at the matches in South Africa. “He is massive on families and that is something that means a hell of a lot to me,” continued Hogg.

“Leaving my wife and kids and parents and brother back at home is something I found challenging when you are away but he has found ways of getting them involved throughout. We have had photos in our room, we have had messages on the team selection, we have had just tiny little bits and pieces that he thinks is perfect for the boys.

“It makes all the sacrifices that you make with your time worthwhile because he is involving everybody because he knows well that if we were living in a normal world they would all be here supporting us. If you get a happy, healthy human you get an even better rugby player and that is something he is massive on which is very much appreciated from us as players.”



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