There’s no closed door for anyone
No stone will be left unturned by Lions coach Warren Gatland in his pursuit of a series win over the Wallabies next year.
The newly-appointed Lions boss has revealed that he had already met with a number of New Zealand coaches in order to gain in-sight on Australia ahead of the Lions’ 2013 tour Down Under.
“It’s been great for me to start thinking about Australia and having a close look at them and engaging with coaches in New Zealand.
‘There’s been cups of coffee with Ian Foster [All Black backline coach] ... Andrew Strawbridge [Chiefs assistant coach], and I caught up with Wayne Smith [Chiefs assistant coach] as well talking about rugby and getting a few ideas and opinions from them,” said Gatland.
Whereas the trio of New Zealand coaches have developed an in-depth understanding of Australian rugby through annual competitions such as the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, Gatland has the knowledge of knowing what it means for southern hemisphere teams to play against the Lions, as the former All Black and Waikato hooker had this honour in 1993.
“Our [Waikato’s] change room was bouncing off the walls because you know this is never going to happen again and you want to make the most of it - you want to live the dream and have a chance of playing and beating the Lions, so it’s not just putting that red jersey on for the Lions. Having the chance to play against them raises the levels of opposition teams because it’s pretty special to them as well,” he said.
Watland added that he would cast the net wide in terms of squad selection and will keep a keen eye on players in domestic competitions.
“There’s no closed door for anyone. The Six Nations are going to have a huge impact but post Six Nations it’s teams performing in Europe competing in quarter and semifinals in some of the domestic competitions.
“Some players out of those domestic competitions, like in the past, if someone comes out of nowhere and finds some form and does exceptionally well they’ll definitely be in contention,” he said.
By Quintin van Jaarsveld