Media orchestrated 'disgusting' campaign to unsettle me - Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland was 'disgusted' by reports he was targeting his son
Warren Gatland was 'disgusted' by reports he was targeting his son Photo credit: Photosport

2017 should be full of fond memories for Warren Gatland - but the former All Blacks hooker can't wait to put it behind him.

Despite achieving a superb result as coach of the British and Irish Lions, Gatland's methods have been questioned in the wake of the tour by Irish flanker Sean O'Brien.

O'Brien believes the combined side would have swept the world champions 3-0 if Gatland and his staff hadn't over-trained them.

The drawn series was only the second time in history that the All Blacks have failed to win a series against the Lions.

But it's the tone of the coverage he received by New Zealand's media during the six-week stay in his country of birth that's left a sour taste in his mouth.

The 53-year-old believes there was an orchestrated campaign by sections of local media that tried to unsettle him from the moment they arrived.

In particular, Gatland singled out the New Zealand Herald for their coverage surrounding the tourists opening match against his son Bryn's New Zealand Barbarians side.

"I felt there was a certain element that there was negativity ... hearing some of stories that were written," he told NZME.

The former Waikato coach pinpointed a story on the morning of the game that read Gatland v Gatland.

"The headline in the New Zealand Herald was 'Gatland to target Barbarians' weakness - his son'. I thought it was a disgusting sort of headline. [I was] gutted by that."

"People contacted me and let's say they were disappointed by some of the stuff that was written.

"I was so excited as a Kiwi coming back to New Zealand playing the best team in the world in their own backyard. I was really looking forward to it, but what surprised me was certain elements of negativity in the press.

"That kind of threw me a little bit. To me, there was almost like an orchestrated campaign from day one by certain elements to try and unsettle me. So that was definitely challenging."

Gatland was delighted with the reception the squad received by the New Zealand public, noting that from a pure rugby experience point of view, the tour was a career highlight.

"I've got to say the hospitality we had in New Zealand was unbelievable, the welcomes we had. I thought the games, in terms of the atmospheres, were incredible. Both sets of fans really took to that.

"Those sorts of things were memorable, but to start with, as a Kiwi, I was so excited about leading the Lions, coming to New Zealand and was really looking forward to that."

Gatland is contracted with Wales until the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after which a return to New Zealand is almost certain.

If the right Super Rugby job was available, Gatland would certainly consider a career swing back to New Zealand rugby, but said only time will tell.

"I'll come home, go to the beach, see what opportunities there are in Super Rugby. You've got to be in the right place at the right time in New Zealand," he said.

"Perhaps if there is nothing in New Zealand, maybe I'll be back in the UK, France or Japan. I'm a great believer in what will be will be.

"If there is an opportunity to get involved in Super Rugby and you are successful, other things open up for you. I promise you, there is not a strategy in place to coach the All Blacks."


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