Rugby Union


Warren Gatland's reaction to Sean O'Brien's stinging Lions coaching criticism

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Football News

Lion's head coach Warren Gatland will seek a meeting with Sean O'Brien after the Irish flanker launched a scathing attack on the Lions' coaching staff following their drawn series against New Zealand.

The Lions lost their first game of the series against the All Blacks 30-15, before bouncing back to claim victory in New Zealand, thereby inflicting the first home loss on the Kiwis in 48 games. The series decider was a 15-15 stalemate.

O'Brien singled out the coaching and management of the team as the reason why the Lions weren't able to win the series and revealed his frustration at the training before matches.

"I think we should have won the tour and we probably should have won it comfortably, There’s the best players in the world on a Lions tour," the Irishman said.

"I know you are playing the best team in the world but with the quality and strength in depth we had we probably should have won the tour. It wasn’t down to fatigue. It was probably management a bit, in terms of how our weeks went.

"The first week, we definitely over-trained on the Thursday and maybe the coaches were panicking a little bit about getting the information into us...We did nearly a similar thing in the last week. So maybe it’s more [from] a coaching point of view, in terms of taking lessons. Less is more sometimes on a tour like that, rather than trying to pick things up at the end of the week."

Pretty scathing stuff from the flanker.

According to The Telegraph, head coach Gatland was both 'surprised and disappointed' after hearing O'Brien and is hoping to organise a meeting to understand the reasoning behind his player's outburst.


Gatland can, however, take solace from the robust defence Chief Executive John Feehan has offered in support of the Lions coaching team which also included Andy Farrell and Rob Howley.

"I said all along that I think we had the best coaching team available and I think they proved that in what we achieved in New Zealand," Feehan responded. "To draw a series with the All Blacks, who had not lost a Test match at home for eight years was a remarkable result and Warren and the coaches deserve huge credit for that.

"People will always have their views on what could have been done better but the fact is that, against all the odds and with limited preparation time, this squad became only the second Lions team in history to either win or draw a series in New Zealand in 13 attempts. That achievement cannot be underestimated.”

New Zealand v British & Irish Lions

In fairness, O'Brien has tried to calm the storm by claiming the media have disclosed the full story from his original interview.

He said: "Some people have focused on what I feel we could have done better instead of what we did well, I have nothing but respect for Warren and the whole coaching team.”

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