2013 British & Irish Lions
Gatland lays down the law on discipline
September 5, 2012
The 2009 Lions tour was memorable for all the right reasons © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland is adamant that his side will not be making headlines for the wrong reasons on their tour of Australia in 2013.
England's 2011 World Cup campaign was notorious for off-field ill discipline and Gatland wants his side to be open and accessible to the public and media but at the same time make headlines for their rugby and not late night incidents. Back in 2009, Sir Ian McGeechan led the tour to South Africa and the players enjoyed a tour mentality akin to the pre-professionalism days. He was praised for restoring the ethos of the Lions despite their eventual series defeat.
But with England's World Cup campaign widely regarded as a disaster, Gatland is keen for his players to enjoy themselves in the true Lions spirit but he also wants them to be on their guard. "Discipline and character are massively important things," Gatland said. "We are all aware what happened in the World Cup and the issues that arose from that.
"Our conduct on and particularly off the field will be paramount It is important we address that and make sure we try not to get ourselves into any trouble off the field."
Tour manager Andy Irvine is adamant that Gatland can strike the right balance within the squad. "In the good old amateur days, some of the antics players got up to were probably worse than what happens now," Irvine admitted. "But it is a different ball game now. These players are professionals; they have their reputations at stake, the reputations of their clubs, their countries and the Lions.
"They have a huge responsibility. We also know that some of them will be targeted. It is something we are very conscious of. It is something Warren is to be congratulated on. Wales have had one or two interesting moments in years gone by but they have had an exemplary record in the last two years.
"Warren is a well-balanced man. He understands what teamship and camaraderie is all about."
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