On Monday afternoon, the rugby world was rocked by some explosive comments from Warren Gatland as the Welsh coach announced that he would never again take charge of the Lions and that he ‘hated’ his recent experience with the Tourists.
In making his announcement, Gatland also stated that he had been heavily affected by recent comments made by Ireland’s Sean O’Brien as the Leinster man had strongly criticised some of the coaching methods deployed during the summer’s tour of New Zealand.
“I’m done. I hated the tour,” said Gatland speaking to reporters on Monday. “I did. I just hated the press and the negativity in New Zealand. When I look back on it now there were a lot of things that were satisfying and what an achievement it was but it was tough work. It was hard.
“You watch how hard the coaches and the backroom staff worked – they worked their absolute bollocks off on that tour – and then to have someone come out and make a comment like that… it really, really did hurt.”
Speaking at the One Zero conference in Dublin on Monday, O’Brien was asked to respond to Gatland’s rather dramatic comments and the 30-year-old was very honest and direct about his position on the matter.
‘Hurt? I don’t think he’s hurt. You know, I said what I said giving an honest opinion of my thoughts on the tour.
Ya know, I spoke to all the coaches. I spoke to all the coaches about what I said because, after reflecting on the whole thing, I think it would have improved obviously, as I’ve stated as well but, it’s done for me now.
I said what I said to try and make things better going forward. It’s put to bed. You know, there’s not much more really left to say on it.’
O’Brien went on to point out that he had also said a lot of very positive things about the tour that the media had ignored before revealing that he has now spoken to Gatland on the phone about the whole saga.
‘That’s done (the call with Gatland). That’s done. So, what happened was, I don’t check my voicemails that often so when it all happened, I rang two of the coaches, I rang Rob Howley and I rang Andy Farrell and, I checked my voicemails eight days later, text Gats and said, ‘when’s a good time to give you a call?’
He didn’t respond for a couple of days and then I got a response saying ‘give me a call whenever.’ And I text him yesterday at half two saying ‘I’ll give you a call after training today.’ So, I rang him and then got off the phone and saw all his quotes so, it was quite funny that way.’
The conversation went very well and it was very relaxed and I said exactly what I said and he had no problem with it either. He obviously said that he was a little bit disappointed that it could have been dealt with in a different way but, I explained my situation and I explained as well about the amount of positives I had mentioned in that whole interview but, it wasn’t portrayed that way.
(At the end of the call) I said ‘I’ll see ya in a couple of months for a pint’.