Donncha O'Callaghan's thoughts on Warren Gatland are mixed, at best.
Conceding in his Times article that the former Irish head coach had left an "invaluable" mark on his career when playing for the U-21s in 1999, the former Munster man ultimately believes that Gatland's undoubted acumen for coaching is underscored by less honourable traits.
Writing of a time when the New Zealand born coach was in charge of the English side Wasps, post-match discussions with opposing players revealed to O'Callaghan the lengths Gatland would go to in an effort to secure the emotional battle against the Irish province:
Wasps beat Munster 37-32 in an incredible Heineken Cup semi-final in 2004. Speaking to Wasps players afterwards, the dominant sentiment was "I'm happy for Gats."
Gatland turned the game into Ireland v England and about his own grievance. He called in a personal favour. It's rare for a coach to do this but Gatland has repeated the trick, helping him to a won-six-lost-four record against Ireland.
Having managed Ireland prior to the arrival of Eddie O'Sullivan in 2001, Warren Gatland has undoubtedly held a grudge thereafter.
Although the 'mis-treatment' of certain Irish players on the two most recent Lions tours is a matter of relativity, O'Callaghan cites these examples as exactly the kind of things Ireland's current crop of players should be focusing on ahead of the arrival of Wales in this afternoon's Six Nations tie:
At some point, Ireland need to call “enough” on this. Gatland should not get to make the same emotional play.
I would love it if one of Ireland’s leaders addressed the group, making the point that Gatland is the man who dropped Pete [O'Mahony] from the match-day 23 after one Test as Lions skipper, dropped Brian O’Driscoll from the 23 in the 2013 Lions series, and did not give Rory Best a decent shot in last summer’s tour.
And he doesn’t feel Seán O’Brien has earned the right to speak his mind when he did as much as any man to earn a series draw against the All Blacks.
Recalling a time where he almost found himself taking up the offer Warren Gatland had made him of joining Wasps in 2002, the final interaction between the pair came with Gatland informing O'Callaghan that he was "too busy" to explain the decision that saw O'Callaghan dropped ahead of the second test in the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa.
It seems safe to say that O'Callaghan, currently playing at 38-years-old with the Worcester Warriors, is happy he stayed where he was.