Sunday 16 June 2019

Sean O'Brien slams Lions coaches: Irishman believes Warren Gatland training schedule costs series win


Sean O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Seán O'Brien has hit out at the coaching structures that were in place for the Lions tour as he believes that had they been better his side could have beaten the All Blacks 3-0 in the drawn series.

The Leinster and Ireland star had an outstanding tour and was instrumental in the Lions securing a draw against the double world champions but O'Brien is extremely critical of how Warren Gatland loaded the training schedule two days before the first Test that they were comfortably beaten in.

O'Brien also felt that attack coach Rob Howley struggled to get his message across to the players and revealed that the game-plan was instead driven by Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell.

"I think we should have won 3-0 with the players we had, we should have won the series," O'Brien insisted.

"Looking back, I could be completely wrong, but if we had a little more structure during the weeks, more of an attack game-plan driven way earlier in the tour, we could have won 3-0.

"We did a triple (training) day on the Thursday before the first Test. You can't do that. If you're playing a game with Tullow, we wouldn't do that.

"Johnny (Sexton) and Faz (Farrell) were the ones running our attack shape. The coaches have a lot to answer for in terms of our attack rather than Johnny and Faz trying to drive it.

"If I was being critical of any coach it would be the fact that I think Rob (Howley) struggled with the group in terms of his attributes of trying to get something across, whereas Johnny and Owen drove everything in the second week in our attack and probably had a better plan in place.

"I don't know if it was people weren't buying into what he 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.

"The last Test, the start of the week annoyed me a little the way they (coaches) didn't have us on the field, getting info into us early in the week, then give us a bit of downtime. It'd keep lads on the straight and narrow.

"Coaching-wise they need to make sure they have the best coaches in the positions - attack, defence, forwards, whatever it may be on a Lions tour."

Irish Independent

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