Gatland rejects "anti-Irish" jibes

Date published: January 23 2014

Wales head coach Warren Gatland insists the furore over dropping Brian O'Driscoll for the Lions is now “water under the bridge.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland insists the furore over dropping Brian O'Driscoll for the Lions is now “water under the bridge.”

Speaking at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday, Gatland revealed he had sent O'Driscoll a Christmas card and that the matter as far as he was concerned was put to rest.

Gatland also anticipated a hostile reception for himself when Wales visit the Aviva Stadium.

The Lions head coach though objected to the “anti-Irish” jibes thrown his way in the wake of selecting Jonathan Davies ahead of O'Driscoll for the third Test win over the Wallabies, highlighting his background in the game with Connacht and the national side.

“Donnacha Ryan [Munster and Ireland lock] rang me up and asked me to send Brian a Christmas card, which was a bit of a joke from the Irish boys,” said Gatland.

“So I sent him a Christmas card, and I wished him and his family well.

“I did ask if he had any influence to try to make sure that the Irish fans didn't boo me too much at the Aviva Stadium.

“I meant it as a joke, it's water under the bridge now and hopefully everyone can move on.

“I'm really looking forward to going back [to Dublin]. It's going to put an extra twist on the game, people are going to try to make something out of it as they always do.

“A lot of people are trying to make a big thing of the Irish situation, but at the end of the day I made my decision.

“And I just keep saying to people it's just a matter of opinion and that's what it is. It doesn't mean we didn't question ourselves and whether it was the right decision.

“People who tried to turn it into an anti-Irish thing: I'm incredibly indebted to Irish rugby and the opportunities they gave me.

“Starting off in the club I knew among the four regions, coaching Connacht and then gave me a chance as a 34-year-old to be an international coach.

“I look back and I'm incredibly grateful to the chances that Ireland gave me.”

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