Leicester Tigers winger Nemani Nadolo has praised his head coach Steve Borthwick for turning down the opportunity to coach the Lions this summer.
Borthwick was the British and Irish Lions‘ forwards coach for the tour to New Zealand in 2017 and reportedly turned down Warren Gatland when he was asked to reprise his role for the tour to South Africa.
Nadolo was speaking to Leicestershire Live about the Tigers coach’s sacrifice and explained how it has inspired him and his teammates to give their all for Borthwick and the club.
When you see your name back in the Starting XV! pic.twitter.com/M90Jn5yn7Y
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) April 29, 2021
“I think it shows the character of who he is. He asked us to buy into this journey. That is the ultimate honour for the guys over here, to represent the British and Irish Lions,” Nadolo said.
“He could have gone. He set that standard and we are following it. For him it was a no-brainer to hang around.
“For me that shows who he is as a person and it makes you want to play for someone like that. Let’s face it, it would be hard to give up to coach the Lions.
“As a player, it says a lot about him and makes us want to play for a coach like that. There aren’t many coaches who would do that.”
Warren Gatland’s coaching team.
Borthwick wasn’t the only coach to turn down the chance to tour with the Lions this summer, as Ireland head coach Andy Farrell and Munster forwards coach also opted against going to South Africa.
The reluctance from coaches to tour with the Lions has been largely down to having duties that lie elsewhere, although the added difficulty of travelling during the pandemic has surely had an effect as well.
Gatland acknowledged the stresses involved with touring with the Lions this year after announcing his coaching staff, using Rowntree’s example to explain the reluctance.
Here are your coaches for the 2021 #CastleLionsSeries against South Africa 🦁
A blend of experience and fresh perspective 💪
Read more about the appointments below ⤵️#LionsRugby
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) April 13, 2021
“My philosophy has always been about family first. Graham had been trying to convince his family to come over from Leicester to Limerick, to live, and they’ve finally come over,” Gatland said.
“It’s a big ask to be away for eight weeks, and possibly 10 with quarantines… He just couldn’t do it.”
As a result, Gatland has chosen three first-time Lions coaches for this year’s tour – Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, Scotland defence coach Steve Tandy and Leinster forwards coach Robin McBryde.