Change of heartHe had previously said he would never coach the iconic side again, claiming he “hated the tour” to New Zealand, but says it was aspects of the attention he received in his home country that affected him negatively. “I struggled with New Zealand media,” he said. “I have no doubt there was an orchestrated campaign from the start to try and unsettle me. It took me by surprise. “I had this romantic view of this ex-All Black coming home, leading the Lions and it being a celebration of rugby, but that wasn’t the case, and it really threw me.” There was also an element of the squad being under-prepared and expected to play just days after touching down in a new time zone that left Gatland frustrated.
But while issues around the 2021 tour’s schedule are yet to be ironed out, the Kiwi has said the prospect of a reduced eight matches over five weeks is “manageable”.