Gatland issues warning ahead of Lions tour

The British and Irish Lions are heading for New Zealand this summer

Gatland issues warning ahead of Lions tour

David Davies PA Wire/PA Images

Warren Gatland has warned the British and Irish Lions squad, to be prepared for 'negatives thrown at us,' when they depart for New Zealand this summer.

Gatland attracted some ire from New Zealand media last November, when he criticised the New Zealand Herald for publishing a mocking image of Australia coach, Michael Cheika dressed like a clown.

The picture was published on the day that the All Blacks set a record of Test victories with their win over Australia along with the caption 'Send in the Clowns.' And Gatland said he was 'embarrassed' by the actions of the media outlet in his native country.

In retaliation, the newspaper ran a picture of Gatland in a similarly less flattering light. 

Gatland is bringing the British and Irish Lions squad to New Zealand in May, and he says he is anticipating other nasty antics that may befall his players.

"Those are the challenges as a management. If things are too nice and going too smoothly there is always that potential for someone to look for a negative story or a negative angle or there is a sting being done."

"We want to be great tourists and play some good rugby – that is not going to please everyone but we have got to be aware that there could be some negatives thrown at us. It is how we deal with it and how we respond to it. That is something that happens in everyday life and modern sport, we will just make sure we are prepared for it."

Referring to the treatment he received for his comments about the Cheika picture, Gatland elected to take a lighthearted view of it.

"They could have at least made me a happy clown."