Warren Gatland Lashes Out At His ‘Warrenball’ Critics

“A lot of people got caught with their pants down afterwards, didn’t they?”

Warren Gatland has fired back at his ‘Warrenball’ critics at today’s Lions press conference ahead of their next tour game against the Auckland Blues on Wednesday.

The phrase has been used by his critics for a number of years now and points to his apparent one-dimensional tactical approach that involved the use of hard-hitting ball carriers to wear an opponent down.

The likes of Eddie Jones and Steve Hansen and many in the media circle have suggested it will be his plan this summer once again and that it will fail miserably.

Gatland finally lost it today, irritated by the constant use of the phrase, revealing where it originated

“I kind of look and go, ‘Was is it when we were successful at Wasps or when I was coaching Waikato in the Air New Zealand Cup?’ I don’t know, when did a certain style change? Gatland said
“Look, a few years ago Brian Smith (former London Irish DOR) coined the phrase ‘Warrenball’ and I don’t know whether that was because he was jealous of how much success we had.
“We had a group of players who came through Wales at the time who ended up being pretty big physical players.
“The modern game of rugby is about getting across the gainline, trying to get front-foot ball and playing to space if that is possible.”

Gatland then pointed to the Lions’ tour of Australia in 2013 for evidence of one of his teams disproving the ‘Warrenball’ tag, having convincingly beaten the Wallabies in the third Test four years ago.

“I think in a way it is an opportunity for people to want to be critical,” said Gatland.
We experienced that four years ago when people decided to be critical and a lot of people got caught with their pants down afterwards, didn’t they?”

The Lions head coach says he is fully aware that his side must bring a certain ‘x-factor’ if they are going to beat the All Blacks and insists his players will be encouraged to express themselves and back their skills and ability.

“To match the All Blacks, you have got to display a bit of x-factor and if that x-factor means an offload or doing something that is a little bit outside the box, the players are being encouraged to do that.
“Because that is what we are going to need to beat them, and express themselves, back their skills and back their ability and we don’t want to be prescribed and we don’t want to play by numbers.
“These players are being encouraged to develop their level of skills and to go out there and to do that. Hopefully, we can show that on Wednesday and the players can do that and perform to what they are being encouraged by the coaches to do.”

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