Warren Gatland Names The Three Best Players He Has Ever Coached

Best of the best.

Former Wales boss Warren Gatland has coached some of the best players of the world in a coaching career that has spanned over 30 years.

Along with Wales, the New Zealander has taken charge of the likes of Ireland, Wasps, Waikato and the British and Irish Lions on two occasions, with a third spell to come. But who is the best player he has ever coached?

Speaking on BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast with Ugo Monye and Chris Ashton this week, Gatland said a few names come to mind. In terms of strictly the northern hemisphere – he said it has to be former Wales and Ospreys winger Shane Williams.

“Probably pound-for-pound, Shane Wiliams,” Gatland said.

“He had some incredible brilliant attacking attributes.

“But sometimes Shane could score three tries and let in two! But pound for pound he was unbelievable when he was at his best.

In terms of leadership, Gatland said former England, Lions and Wasps forward Lawrence Dallaglio is without a doubt the best captain he has ever coached.

“The best captain that I’ve ever been involved with was Lawrence Dallaglio. He had that unbelievable ability to motivate players in a way that I’ve never seen anyone else able to do. Particularly in the changing rooms,” Gatland said.

“He’d talk the talk and then walk the walk. I’ve so much admiration for his leadership and honesty in that role.

But overall, in terms of pure talent – he said it had to be former All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu.

“Probably the best player I’ve ever coached, [who] played for the All Blacks, Waikato and Clermont, was Sitiveni Sivivatu,” Gatland said.

“He tried to portray himself as this easy go, dumb-looking Fijian – but he wasn’t like that. He was a very, very intelligent rugby player.

“I saw him have the ability to make up moves during a game from the wing.

“I remember a game where Waikato played Northland and he pulled his hamstring, it was our scrum and we were in the 22 and the physio went on and said ‘Siti you gotta come off you’ve pulled your hamstring’, and he said ‘no, no just let me score the try first and then I’ll come off’.

“So we had a scrum and went ten and there was sort of a ten/wing cut and he hobbled across the line and put the ball down and walked off the field!

“But he was probably the most talented rugby player I’ve ever coached. And I’ve been lucky enough to coach a lot of quality players in my time.”