Lions coach Warren Gatland muttered expletives under his breath as he left a heated press conference in Auckland last night.
The London Sun newspaper reported he was heard to say: “F*** I don’t know why I have to f****** keep defending myself,” after questioning of his perceived “smash and bash” style of rugby.
In response to questions on his tactics Gatland said: “What do you mean? When did that ‘way’ start. You don’t know the answer to that, do you? As it when we were successful at Wasps or when I coached Waikato?”
He made it clear he did not care for the perception.
In the UK they use the phrase “Warrenball” – a phrase coined a few years ago to sum up the prevailing view that teams coached by Gatland play with a definite style that is exclusively direct, confrontational and physical.
Even All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said that he expects the Lions, whatever else they say to the contrary, will revert to a simple, low-risk game favoured by Wales.
No coach enjoys being pigeon-holed like that – it implies a lack of awareness and flexibility, qualities that Gatland clearly has displayed to have enjoyed such a long and illustrious career.
There is the implication that his rugby teams lack variation, creativity and subtlety.
Understandably he doesn’t see that as being a fair representation of how his teams play.
Gatland says he’s made it clear to his Lions squad that they have a licence to express themselves; to be creative and spontaneous.
“The message to the players is that we want to play positive rugby and move the ball and create chances,” he said. “To match the All Blacks you have to display a bit of x-factor and that means an offload or something that is a little bit outside the box.
“The players have to back their ability. We don’t want to be prescribed and play by numbers. They have been encouraged to demonstrate their level of skill and hopefully we can do that on Wednesday.”
Thanks to- NZ Herald