8 Jul 2017

NZ media treatment of Gatland "disgrace"

6:45 pm on 8 July 2017

The British and Irish Lions assistant coach Rob Howley has hit out at some of the treatment handed out to Warren Gatland by the New Zealand media.

Lions assistant coach Rob Howley

Lions assistant coach Rob Howley Photo: Photosport

Speaking ahead of the third test in Auckland, Howley told the Guardian that the way some home media had treated Gatland was a disgrace.

Gatland was mocked as a clown in a full-page newspaper cartoon in the New Zealand Herald ahead of the second test in Wellington.

"The way Warren Gatland's been treated has been a disgrace, an absolute disgrace," said Howley.

"We're certainly aware of the NZ media and how they've portrayed certain personnel over the last couple of weeks.

"You can be critical of technical or tactical elements of the Lions or New Zealand but when that becomes personal criticism we all step over the mark. That's happened over the last four weeks of the tour. It's not nice in terms of your family."

Howley said he had never known a coach be targeted "to the extent it has occurred with Warren Gatland" and believes the Wales coach deserves more respect.

"You have to applaud what he's achieved as a Kiwi in the northern hemisphere - and I've no doubt what he'll achieve when he comes back to New Zealand as well. He's probably one of the best coaches in world rugby at this moment in time."