Warren Gatland's joke at Maro Itoje's expense

Warren Gatland's joke at Maro Itoje's expense

Warren Gatland showed his humorous side after the British and Irish Lions' win over the Springboks on Saturday, cracking a joke to the side at the expense of Maro Itoje.

Itoje was named man of the match in the opening Test of the series but the Lions boss couldn't help taking a jab at the 26-year-old.

During Tuesday's press conference, Gatland revealed the joke he told the squad on Monday.

"I made a joke on Monday that it was the first time in about 360-odd games that Maro Itoje hadn’t given away a penalty!" Gatland said.

Itoje has his critics owing to the number of penalties he has given away in the past, particularly with England, and while Gatland's joke was aimed directly at that, it did come with some high praise for the second rower who won three turnovers against the Springboks. 

"I spoke to him last night [Monday] as well, and said maybe the penny has finally dropped, because I thought his decision-making around the game in terms of when he went for things, when he decided to leave things alone, I kind of felt in the past he’s chased lost causes and gone after things he didn’t need to do and probably wasted a lot of energy"

"But I thought on Saturday his decision-making about when to go after something, counter-ruck at the breakdown and the line-out stuff, was actually outstanding. To me, that’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play in any sort of jersey.

"We all know the energy he brings to a game and how enthusiastic he is, and sometimes that’s probably been to his detriment because he has been guilty in the past of giving away penalties and probably pushing the limits but I thought we saw an incredibly mature performance last weekend."

Latest News