Lions tour: Gatland brushes off 'clowngate', surprised by his hostile reception

  • 28/06/2017

Being depicted as a clown?

Warren Gatland can see the funny side but the British and Irish Lions coach isn't laughing about what he says are campaigns against him in the New Zealand media.

Gatland created another stir when questions moved away from rugby following the Lions' 31-31 draw with the Hurricanes in their final midweek match.

The touring press pack couldn't wait to ask him for his verdict after a prominent cartoon painting him as a circus clown appeared in the country's biggest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald.

The same sort of imagery in the same paper got under Australian coach Michael Cheika's skin last year, saying it showed disrespect to him and the Wallabies jersey.

Gatland took his treatment on the chin, claiming he hadn't seen the image but was hoping he had been portrayed as happy.

However, other elements of the media have infuriated former All Black Gatland, who says criticism of him has become personal.

"As a Kiwi, you'd like to think you'd come home and things would be a little bit more positive from one or two members of the media. That hasn't happened," he said.

"Obviously one or two people have had a significant campaign against me personally but that's like water off a duck's back for me."

Gatland also couldn't resist another jab at All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen.

Hansen sought out media earlier this week to complain about Gatland's insinuations the home side set out to deliberately injure halfback Conor Murray.

"I only thing I'd heard from him is that he'd rung up a radio station. I thought that was quite unusual for an international coach," Gatland said.

"I'm just worried about us, not what Steve Hansen's saying, or how any newspaper draws me up."