The significance of the Lions tour was not underplayed over the past two months. The tourists were charged with what was seemingly an impossible task – going to New Zealand and beating the best team in the world.
Overall, not losing the series can be considered a serious achievement. The Lions entered the country given no hope, and pressure was piled upon their Kiwi head coach Warren Gatland.
Much was made of some of the jibes sent in Gatland’s direction, including the front page of the New Zealand Herald which depicted him as a clown.
It was clear relief that he was ultimately vindicated, portrayed by his arrival at a press conference after the third test wearing a clown nose.
However, speaking to Sky Sports, Gatland revealed that the tour as a whole was not an entirely enjoyable experience.
“The All Blacks are hardly ever vulnerable but last week there were a few comments made that I hadn’t expected.
“My wife asked me about three weeks into the tour, she said ‘how are you enjoying the tour?’ and I said ‘I’m hating it’.
“You don’t publicly show that something’s affecting you. I don’t mind people criticising me tactically or the way that we play but I thought some of the stuff was quite personal. And, as a Kiwi, I found that quite challenging to be perfectly honest.”
Gatland’s leadership in delivering a series draw is one hell of an achievement, and puts him right in the frame to replace Steve Hansen when he gives up the All Blacks job.
For now, he returns to Wales, but has taken some valuable lessons along with him as he prepares for the next chapter.
“You’ve got to put that aside and move on. I’m not a person who trawls through every newspaper and media and stuff but you hear what’s going on.
“You try really hard to make sure that doesn’t affect you; you’ve got to make sure you’re relaxed and calm.
“That’s important the staff and players see you as the person in charge and in control of whatever’s going on out there.”
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