British Lions

Coaches cost Lions Test series victory: O'Brien

2017-09-21 21:21
Sean O'Brien (Getty Images)

London - Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien criticised the coaching during this year's British and Irish Lions tour, saying the team were "overtrained" and should have easily beaten the All Blacks.

O'Brien, speaking to the Off The Ball podcast, said Warren Gatland's coaching team were "panicking" at some stages in New Zealand and that they may have cost them the tour.

The Lions tied the three-Test series 1-1 -- going agonisingly close to emulating the 1971 Lions side to beat the All Blacks in a series -- after they lost the first game, won the second and drew the final encounter in Auckland.

"I'd be pretty critical of (the tour) because I think we should have won the tour and we probably should have won it comfortably," O'Brien said.

"Looking back there's a bit of frustration we didn't get it right over the whole duration of the tour... We can be proud of some of the performances we put in but I think as a player it was probably one that got away from us."

O'Brien was especially scathing of attack coach Rob Howley saying Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton and England's playmaker Owen Farrell had to effectively supercede him and take control of affairs.

"If I was being critical of any coach, it would be the fact that I think Rob struggled with the group in terms of trying to get stuff across," said O'Brien.

"Johnny and Owen drove everything in the second week, for instance, in our attack and had a better plan in place

"I don't know if it was people not buying into what he (Howley) was about or whatever else. That's the hard thing about a Lions tour as well; getting everyone to listen to a coach that was probably set in his ways."

O'Brien scored a classic try in the first game but he said the tour was "probably one that got away from us".

"I think there's a lot of learnings to take from the tour in terms of the coaching set-up as well and from a player's point of view with how we dealt with things," he said.

O'Brien added: At the end of the day with the squad we had, I think we should have beaten them, 100 percent."

However, British and Irish Lions chief executive John Feehan hit back later on Thursday defending Gatland and his staff.

"To draw a series with the All Blacks, who had not lost a Test match at home for eight years, was a remarkable result, and Warren and the coaches deserve huge credit for that," said Feehan.

"People will always have their views on what could have been done better but the fact is that, against all the odds and with limited preparation time, this squad became only the second Lions team in history to either win or draw a series in New Zealand in 13 attempts.

"That achievement cannot be underestimated."

Read more on:    british and irish lions  |  rugby


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