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Gatland's done everything right: Rowntree

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/06/2017

Warren Gatland has negotiated the rocky waters that come with coaching the British and Irish Lions better than anybody could have, his colleague Graham Rowntree believes.

Days out from the first Test against the All Blacks, Lions assistant coach Rowntree has nothing but praise for how New Zealander Gatland has managed the tourists in his native country.

They've notched four wins from six games, have unquestionably improved and have been a happy, united group off the field.

None of those things are easily achieved, Rowntree believes, but accomplished Welsh coach Gatland boasts the experience and acumen to tackle one of rugby's most challenging jobs.

He saw it first as an assistant to Gatland on the triumphant Lions tour of Australia in 2013.

The people skills and rugby nous required to unite players from four nations was on show once again, Rowntree added.

"He's world class, his record speaks for itself," he said.

"He's very good at saying the right thing. He doesn't say too much. In fact his mantra, as he would admit, is 'less is more'.

"That applies to us as well. He keeps a leash on how much coaching we're doing.

"He has a nice intensity about him, without being too open about it."

Rowntree says Gatland was on-point in a motivational speech delivered to his midweek players at the team hotel before their defeat of the Chiefs in Hamilton on Tuesday.

It was sprinkled with passion, ahead of a match in the former All Blacks' home town.

Such an approach isn't always the Gatland way though.

"Warren's measured. He knows how to pick the tone up or bring it down," Rowntree said.

"He knows rugby and he knows rugby players. He knows the game more than anyone I've worked with.

"I see a man who's very good with people and getting the right people around him."

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