The ripples of Sean O'Brien's criticism of the Lions coaching staff continues to spread outward. O'Brien was admirably forthright in his views when reflecting on the drawn series against New Zealand. To avoid a series defeat was heralded as a very fine achievement by the Lions, but O'Brien revealed that he was far from satisfied with the tour. He believes that the Lions could have won the series, and criticised preparation for the third Test along with finding fault with Rob Howley's contribution as attacking coach, claiming that Sexton and Farrell ultimately devised the plan of attack.
Warren Gatland said in response that he didn't know "what planet he is on", saying that claims of a 3-0 series win would have been a fitting reward for the Lions was disrespectful to New Zealand. Gatland did phone O'Brien for a further explanation of his comments, with reports claiming that it took O'Brien weeks to return the missed phone call.
Gatland has had his diary of the tour published, and has called it In The Line of Fire. It is being serialised in the Daily Mail, and as part of that, he sat down with the paper's Chief Sports Writer Oliver Holt for an interview.
During the course of the interview, Gatland was once again critical of O'Brien, hinting that the Irishman's off-field preparation is not exactly perfect.
Here are the relevant quotes:
I was disappointed with his comments. I thought him coming out and saying we should have won 3-0 was pretty disrespectful to New Zealand. That's where he lost his credibility. He came out and he was critical but what was his solution? There was nothing. It was words without a solution. If you are going to come out and say something, give us what the answer is.
When I spoke to Sean last week I said the ironic thing was that he came to us injured at the start of the tour and his injury record over the last number of years has been pretty abysmal in terms of getting a string of games together. I reminded him that in his interview, he said he was in the best shape of his life during the Tests so we must have done something right surely. And he said: "I never thought of that".
The full interview is worth a whirl, here.