Six Nations 2018: Warren Gatland deserves more credit - Ken Owens

Warren Gatland looks concerned
Warren Gatland guided Wales to the 2008 Grand Slam - his first campaign in charge
Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 24 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Hooker Ken Owens believes Wales coach Warren Gatland does not receive the credit he deserves.

Gatland takes charge of his 100th Wales Test when they face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday 24, February.

He is also unbeaten in two British and Irish Lions Test series.

Asked if Gatland gets the credit he deserves, Owens said: "I don't think so. He's always had to - not explain himself - but prove himself, despite helping transform Wales."

Gatland guided the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 and followed that up with a drawn series against the All Blacks in 2017.

Wales won a Grand Slam in 2008, Gatland's first Six Nation in charge, and they have had two more European clean sweeps and a title since he arrived.

But the New Zealander's tactics and methods have often been criticised by some fans and pundits.

Owens said: "We've been right up in the mix and things haven't gone right always, but we've always been there or thereabouts and we are a very tough team to break down.

"We have won three [Six Nations] championships and two Grand Slams in the last 10 years, and he [Gatland] has won one Lions series and drawn the other.

"The New Zealand tour was the second-best result there in Lions history, and if you look at New Zealand over the past 20 or 30 years, they haven't lost at Eden Park and we got a draw there.

"He is a great coach, and his work with the Lions has put him up there with the best."

Owens also says Gatland "knows how to get the best out of players" with his man management.

"When we have been in tough situations, he knows how to get that extra couple of per cent out of you," said the Scarlets hooker and captain.

"He is a very good man manager. Some boys need a cwtch [cuddle] or a bit of a look-after every now and again, and others need the stick. It's a bit of both.

"He has managed that and put a massive emphasis on the fact family comes first.

"If everything is fine off the field, then all you have to worry about is the rugby, and he's great at that."

The Ireland rivalry

George North scores Wales' first try against Ireland in the Six Nations last year
George North scored Wales' first try during their 22-9 win over Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations

Owens also says Gatland has survived at the top level by adapting his approach.

"You don't stay in a job like this and do as well as he has without changing things up, changing your style of play, and I think you've seen that with Wales in the last few years," said Owens.

"I think we are playing some really good stuff now. Looking forward to the World Cup, we're in a really good place now."

As a former Ireland coach, Owens believes Gatland relishes seeing Wales taking them on.

"He enjoys playing the Irish. He and the coaches do, whether that's because of rivalries because Gats played and coached at Connacht and coached the Irish team, or because he has coached the Irish boys on Lions tours, there is a rivalry there.

"They are up there with the best sides, and they've been one of our biggest rivals over the last 10 years.

"There is that special something between the Welsh and the Irish."

Top Stories