Gatland lays into All Blacks fans

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:11
Large warren gatland lions stare 800

NEWS: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland began the mind games early ahead of next year's tour of New Zealand by accusing the world champions' fans of being arrogant.

The 53-year-old New Zealander, who is renowned for being a master at psychological warfare, said the fans berating of Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper - also a Kiwi - in a Rugby Championship match last month was embarrassing.

"As a Kiwi, I was embarrassed," said Gatland, who made the remarks shortly after he told reporters he didn't want his words twisted and published accordingly as he would then stop talking to the media.

"There was still a large portion of the crowd booing [Australia's] Quade Cooper. Get over it."

Cooper has never been forgiven by the All Blacks fans for pushing their icon Richie McCaw in a match six years ago and he exacerbated his image as a villain when he caught the same player with his knee in 2011.

Gatland, who guided the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013, also took a dim view of the New Zealand newspaper that put a made-up photo of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika adorned with a clown's nose and the headline 'Send in the clowns' on the morning of the match.

Both Cheika and captain Stephen Moore lambasted the paper for a lack of respect, a view widely held globally.

"You can be proud but you've still got to show humility and respect. In the past, New Zealanders have prided ourselves on that and been humble about the success of the rugby team.

"It was the first time that I've sat there and thought, 'We're better than this'. I don't think the All Blacks are doing that," he added.

Gatland, who has stood down from his role as head coach of Wales while he prepares for the Lions tour, is bidding to become just the second coach, after Welshman Carwyn James in 1971, to steer the Lions to a series win over the All Blacks.

The former hooker, who never won a cap for the All Blacks as he played second fiddle to the legendary Sean Fitzpatrick, says the world champions have raised their game even since beating Australia in last year's World Cup Final.

However, the former Wasps and Ireland handler says he has taken heart from the way Wales performed in a three-Test series earlier this year in New Zealand.

"From a Welsh perspective, we have shown that we can compete for 60 minutes and look okay. We have often commented if we get four or five injuries in Wales we start to struggle a little in terms of the back-up.

"The beauty and the great thing about the Lions is the depth that you have got to choose from. That's what's exciting about it, being able to pick not just a XV, but a 23 and a good back-up as well to cope with injuries but also hopefully have the armoury on the pitch and the bench to compete with them," he added.

Gatland, who could also choose another Kiwi as captain in England's captain Dylan Hartley, will hope his squad stays fit and healthy as they face a demanding tour on all fronts. The three-Test series against the All Blacks will be the culmination of a 10-fixture tour that includes five games against Super Rugby opposition and a clash with the Maoris.

Adding to his problems is a fixture pile-up domestically.

The Lions' first match in New Zealand takes place early in June, just a week after the English Premiership and Celtic League Finals. With many potential squad members set to be involved in those matches, the Lions coach will have reduced preparation time with key players prior to the Tests.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 March 2017
Crusaders v Force 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Waratahs 08h45 Melbourne
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 19h05 Parc y Scarlets
Dragons v Ulster 19h35 Rodney Parade
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Cheetahs v Blues 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Gloucester 15h00 Ashton Gate
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
B&I LIONS
MORE LOGS