Torn Gatland praises match-winning son

Beaten Chiefs coach Warren Gatland has praised the composure of his son Bryn, who was the Highlanders hero in their Super Rugby Aotearoa match.

WARREN GATLAND
WARREN GATLAND Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Chiefs coach Warren Gatland couldn't hide fatherly pride after his son and Highlanders replacement Bryn kicked the winning drop goal in a Super Rugby Aotearoa thriller.

The all New Zealand based competition opened on Saturday with high drama in Dunedin, finishing with Gatland Jnr's wobbly three-pointer to secure a 28-27 win for the hosts.

It induced a roar from the capacity crowd of more than 22,000 at Forsyth Stadium, who were already celebrating being allowed into the venue.

The match was the first rugby union match in the world to open its doors to a crowd en masse since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

While disappointed his team was beaten, Warren Gatland couldn't help but admire the composure of his son, who hadn't played for a year because of injury.

He revealed the pair had dinner together the night before the game, where Bryn revealed he had been called onto the bench because of an injury to starting five-eighth Josh Ioane.

"And then we had a joke, and he said, 'I've got a feeling I'm going to come on and kick the winning drop goal'," Gatland Snr told journalists.

"I'm not happy about the result, but he showed a bit of calmness there, and he's done that in the past and won games in clutch moments.

"Unfortunately we gave him that opportunity and in fairness he was able to step up to the plate and deliver for them."

Bryn Gatland didn't want to rub it in to his father, admitting he was "lucky" his mis-hit effort sailed over from nearly 40m out.

Moments earlier, Chiefs star Damian McKenzie had landed a drop goal to put the Chiefs in front.

It was an exciting end to a contest that burst into life in the second half although it was a stop-start affair for long periods as match officials cracked down on ruck infringements in a bid to create a more fluent spectacle.

The Blues were to host the Hurricanes on Sunday at a sold-out Eden Park to complete the opening round of the 10-week competition.


AAP