WARREN Gatland said he unable to enjoy the British and Irish Lions’ first series victory for 16 years due to the “vitriolic” criticism he received over team selection.
The build up to the 41-16 rout of Australia in the pivotal Test at ANZ Stadium was dominated by the furore over the decision to drop four-time tourist Brian O’Driscoll.
Gatland’s preference for 10 of his Wales players was also questioned, but his judgement received the best possible vindication with the four-try demolition of pre-match favourites Australia.
However, the Lions’ head coach was stung by the reaction to O’Driscoll’s omission to the extent it will take weeks for what the 2013 squad has achieved to register.
“I was absolutely shocked by what was said. It was vitriolic almost in terms of the criticism,” he said.
“We made a tough call and we knew there would be some fallout from it, but there have been other players who have been unlucky on this tour in terms of selection.
“I haven’t taken a lot of pleasure out of this in terms of feeling vindicated. I haven’t enjoyed the last 72 hours, it’s been tough personally.
“Maybe in a week or two I might get some pleasure out of this, but at the moment there isn’t a lot of pleasure because of the amount of criticism that had been personally placed on me.
“That’s why you’re in the job, to make those tough calls. Every now and again one of them comes through and you get it right. I’ve always stuck by my guns.
“In Wales a couple of years ago I made a tough call dropping Martyn Williams for Sam Warburton. Sometimes you have to put your balls on the line.”