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'It was special' - Gatland's son causes the Lions a whole lot of problems

The 22-year-old Barbarians out-half was excellent in Whangarei.

Murray Kinsella reports from Whangarei

AFTER SATURDAY’S CLASH between the Lions and the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, only one of the Gatlands who came out with his reputation enhanced.

Warren Gatland with his son Bryn Gatland Bryn Gatland embraces his father before kick-off. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Though the Lions were heavy favourites to open their tour with a commanding win, Warren Gatland’s men snuck home on a 13-7 scoreline and one of the major reasons they struggled was young Bryn Gatland.

The 22-year-old out-half was superb against his father’s side, bringing a delightful variety to his kicking game and releasing some of the Barbarians’ dangerous runners with his passing game.

Such was Bryn’s influence on the game that Gatland Senior would have been relieved to see the Blues out-half depart in the 58th minute, replaced by Joe Webber.

It was special really,” said Warren Gatland afterwards. ”I thought he played pretty well.

“He caused us a few problems, particularly with his kicking game, and they came with so much innovation and doing things a little differently, and that definitely put us under some pressure in that first half.”

Bryn was instrumental in the BaaBaas’ challenge of the Lions, with his garryowen leading to captain Sam Anderson-Heather’s try, which Gatland also converted.

Bryn Gatland, Gabby Gatland, Trudi Gatland and Warren Gatland The Gatland family at the final whistle. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The fact that he was facing his father’s side was a dominant part of the media build-up to this game in Whangarei and Barbarians coach Clayton McMillan praised the North Harbour out-half for how he handled the attention.

“I think he’s done outstandingly well,” said McMillan. “I said to someone after the game that it’s really hard to imagine what his life has actually been like without being in his shoes for the last month really, not just the last week.

There’s obviously been a lot of romanticism around his selection in this team and he’s just handled it like an utter professional. He’s made no secret of the fact that he loves his dad and he’ll support them from here on in, but he was 100% committed to the cause.

“He really wanted to do well for himself and this team. For the time he was out there, I thought he did a fantastic job.”

Gatland only played his first full Mitre 10 Cup campaign for North Harbour last year, having made his debut in the competition for Waikato in 2015.

He earned a call-up to the Blues’ Super Rugby squad as injury cover this season and has made four appearances, including one start, for Tana Umaga’s side.

Bryn Gatland Gatland is a handy player. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

While the emotional side of the clash with the Lions could have been inhibiting, Gatland instead showed that he has a bright future in the game as he outshone Jonny Sexton and a host of leading Test stars at Toll Stadium.

And while his father had Lions-related concerns after the game, there was a nice moment as he joined his wife Trudi, daughter Gabby and son Bryn for a family photo before heading in to speak to his team.

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Murray Kinsella

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