Warren Gatland is back home and by the look of him he could hardly be happier.

The British and Irish Lions coach is among family and friends here in Hamilton, his team dispatched the New Zealand Maori the night before in Rotorua in one of the best displays of the tour, and in front of the media tonight he even cracked a few jokes at his own expense, and at Stephen Donald's, with a gentle nudge too at his All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen.

It was a public performance possibly based on the confidence which will have grown through his squad from their performance in beating the Maori in a match viewed as one of the toughest on the tour outside the tests. Their opponents, featuring a sensational-looking backline, hardly fired a shot.

In all honesty, it was reassuring too, to see Gatland enjoying himself despite the pressure which will come on this week ahead of the first test against the All Blacks at Eden Park, with Hansen no doubt polishing a few more one-liners of his own.


Gatland's decision to bring in reinforcements from the Wales and Scotland squads currently downunder has provoked a backlash at home and in New Zealand from those who believe it devalues the Lions' jersey, but there was no hint of that tonight as he spoke of his enjoyment at being back in his home province of Waikato for whom he played and coached for so many years.

"If you cut me open I'd probably bleed red, yellow and black... I'm pretty proud of my roots and it's a great place to grow up," Gatland said. "I went to school here and played for Waikato, and what I love about Waikato people is that they're incredibly loyal.

"The amount of support that I've had personally has just been amazing and I experienced that in the World Cup here in 2011, the amount of Waikato people who supported Wales when we played here against Fiji and Samoa was incredible.

"It's nice to be back and catch up with some friends. The unfortunate thing is we are here for such a short time but I'm really looking forward to what should be a great occasion on Tuesday night for what should be a great atmosphere in a proper rugby ground. It's close, the fans get close to it, it's normally a great place to play."

Gatland revealed, too, that Donald, the Chiefs' captain and No10, had recently become engaged in a rather unorthodox fashion - during a whitebaiting trip, an activity he was enjoying when called up to the All Blacks squad before the 2011 World Cup final in which of course he played a starring role.

"The Beaver, yeah, I was lucky enough to coach Steve for a few years," Gatland said. "There was a period of time when New Zealanders either loved him or hated him, but he's a fantastic person, a great individual, a brilliant team man.

"Unfortunately 12 months ago I said to the [Wales] players, whatever you do, don't take a dummy from Stephen Donald and I think the first time he touched the ball he sold a dummy and the Chiefs scored.

"I heard from someone over the weekend that he recently got engaged as well so I'd like to congratulate him on his engagement. I don't think it was a traditional proposal, I think he was out whitebaiting and the ring was offered at the back of the ute - in typical Stephen Donald fashion."

Gatland's inquisitor opined: "You seem to have a lot of knowledge about this engagement", to which Gatland replied, with a nod to Hansen's revelations last week regarding impending Lions' reinforcements: "I do have my sources of information as well, so..."