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'There’s been a significant campaign against me personally' - Gatland

The Lions coach has felt targeted by the New Zealand Herald.

Murray Kinsella reports from Wellington

WARREN GATLAND SAYS the New Zealand Herald has launched a ‘significant personal campaign’ against him during the Lions’ tour of New Zealand.

The newspaper printed a cartoon caricature of Gatland dressed as a clown on the front page of its sports section on Tuesday morning alongside the headline ‘If the nose fits, Warren.’

Gats 2

Inside the newspaper, journalist Gregor Paul wrote that Gatland is showing signs of unravelling and criticised him for implying that the All Blacks had deliberately attempted to injure Conor Murray.

While the clown mock-up – the second time the NZ Herald has done as much in relation to Gatland – was another step up in their critical reporting on the Lions coach, it matched their theme of the tour so far.

Asked about being depicted as a clown again by the Kiwi newspaper, Gatland initially said he had not seen the New Zealand Herald image, before claiming that they had targeted him personally with their coverage.

“Look, as a Kiwi, you’d like to think you’d come home and things would be more positive from one or two members of the media,” said Gatland. “That hasn’t happened.

“But you can’t let that get to you. You’ve just got to take that on the chin and not get affected by it.

“There’s been a significant campaign against me personally. But that’s water off a duck’s back to me. I’ve just got to concentrate on doing my job and not worry about any specific individuals who try and make it personal.

“It’s just part of professional sport. I couldn’t give a toss if that’s happening.”

The New Zealand Herald’s latest scathing criticism of Gatland centres around his implication that the All Blacks had deliberately attempted to injure Conor Murray by targeting his standing leg as he kicked in the first Test.

Warren Gatland Gatland has felt personally targeted. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen came out strongly against Gatland in response, calling in to a Kiwi radio show to voice his belief that the Lions coach was “desperate”.

The New Zealand Herald then jumped behind the All Blacks coach and published their latest version of Gatland as a clown.

“I haven’t read anything from Hansen’s quotes,” said Gatland. “The only thing I heard was that he had rung up a radio station. I thought that was quite unusual for an international coach.

“But I’m not worried about what Steve Hansen says or what any newspaper draws me up as. I just hope it was a happy clown!

“The stuff with Conor Murray was raised to me by the referees who had seen it. They were aware of it and it’s just making sure that as a nine he’s protected.

“I just felt that one situation with diving at his legs was a little bit dangerous. That’s all I was saying. It wasn’t something I was hugely complaining about. I just wanted the referees to make sure they are protecting the nines, but they had raised that issue with me.”

Meanwhile, Gatland confirmed that Robbie Henshaw’s tour may be over after a shoulder injury during the 31-31 draw with the Hurricanes.

“He doesn’t look great at the moment, he’s in a bit of a sling with a shoulder. I think there’s a good chance his tour could be over. I think we’ve got enough cover within the squad at this stage not to have to replace him, if that’s the case.”

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Murray Kinsella

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