Lions new boys handed Chiefs role

Fernando Stephens
June 19, 2017

"If Steve Hansen knows what's going on from outside, then he's a much better man than I am".

Gatland appears to be impervious to such criticism but appears more sensitive to barbs from his native New Zealand, where the Lions are being dismissed in some quarters as "one trick ponies".

"It's part of the game in New Zealand, all New Zealand teams at the moment are doing it". "We changed a few things and had a really honest conversation and just said "look it is probably not good enough, it is not the platform we want to be giving ourselves" so we changed it and it paid off".

"So that will be the message again for Tuesday". I heard he just got engaged as well - I'd like to congratulate him on that. "I think he has done alright going forward".

Gatland's inquisitor opined: "You seem to have a lot of knowledge about this engagement", to which Gatland replied, with a nod to Hansen's revelations last week regarding impending Lions' reinforcements: "I do have my sources of information as well, so".

Wales quartet Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis have made the short trip from Auckland to link up with the Lions.

Gatland, who coached Waikato from 2005 to 2007, was delighted to be back on his old stomping ground and hugely appreciates the support of the region.

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Steve Borthwick, normally the quiet man of the Lions coaching team, could be seen delivering an animated speech to the pack in a huddle before kick-off and among his demands were nearly certainly greater intensity in their mauling game, which, like the scrum had underperformed and denied the Lions a siege gun option from the line-out. The amount of support I've had is awesome.

"It's nice to be back and catch up with some friends".

Gatland's decision to bring in reinforcements from the Wales and Scotland squads now downunder has provoked a backlash at home and in New Zealand from those who believe it devalues the Lions' jersey, but there was no hint of that tonight as he spoke of his enjoyment at being back in his home province of Waikato for whom he played and coached for so many years.

"It´s an opportunity for Liam to go and impress there", Gatland said. Unfortunately he rolled his ankle a little bit so hadn't recovered in time.

Gatland says there are final decisions "still to be made at lock, back-row, the back three as well, and midfield too" and the coaches will meet on Wednesday to finalise selection, but the dilemmas in all areas bar the wingers and fullback are likely to be a case of juggling between two names.

"It's a great opportunity for Elliot and I think he's done pretty well", Gatland said.

Rory Best will captain the British and Irish Lions against the Chiefs, with Sam Warburton's omission a boost in the Wales flanker's bid for first Test selection. "I've never not been confident", said Gatland.

Other reports by BadHub

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