British & Irish Lions

Lions coach Gatland heaps praise on Rassie

Warren Gatland (Getty)
Warren Gatland (Getty)

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has heaped praise on counterpart Rassie Erasmus, who coached the Springboks to World Cup glory in Japan last year.

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"Probably one of the guys I respect is Rassie Erasmus with South Africa. I really like his philosophy with the game and his attitude," Gatland told The Breakdown on Sky Sport New Zealand.

Prior to taking the Springbok job, Erasmus coached Munster in Ireland, whom he took to the PRO14 final and European Champions Cup semi-finals in the 2016/17 season. It saw him named 2017 Coach of the Year in Ireland.

"He's got a huge amount of respect for the job he did at Munster and obviously he's done a fantastic job since he went back to South Africa. I enjoy conversations and enjoy coaching against him as well," Gatland added.

The former Wales mentor is currently coaching New Zealand franchise the Chiefs in Super Rugby and will face the Springboks next year when he takes the British & Irish Lions to South Africa.

Erasmus has stepped down as Springbok head coach, but remains at the helm of all the coaches as SA Rugby's director of rugby.

Gatland, meanwhile, also opened up on his rivalry with England coach Eddie Jones.

He said it was a false perception that he and Jones did not see eye to eye.

"I loved beating Eddie Jones. It's always nice to get one up on him. But we've been out for dinner a few times and the whole media thing is just a game," Gatland said.

Gatland, who was Wales head coach between 2007 and 2019, also coached the Lions on their tour to Australia in 2013 and to New Zealand in 2017.

The Lions beat the Wallabies 2-1 and drew the series 1-1 against the All Blacks.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert

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