Welsh hooker Ken Owens has delivered strident backing for coach Warren Gatland saying the Kiwi hasn't been given the respect he deserves around world rugby.

Gatland will be in charge of Wales for the 100th time when they play Ireland this weekend, having also coached the Irish and led two Lions tours.

Owens, who had an excellent tour of New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions last year, told the Guardian: "I don't think he gets the credit for what he has achieved.

"Inside and outside Wales he has always had to, for some reason prove himself.


"He has transformed Wales and we are always there or thereabouts now, a tough team to break down; we have won the Six Nations three times under him.

"The Lions tour last year was the second best to New Zealand but it seems it still wasn't enough. He's a great coach and his work with the Lions put him up there with the best."

The story claimed "unflattering portraits" of Gatland in New Zealand last year highlighted this lack of respect.

Owens said: ""He knows how to get the best out of players. He is a very good man-manager who knows when to work the boys hard and when to ease off.

"Some need a cuddle and others the stick and he appreciates we are all different. He puts a massive emphasis on family coming first and he takes all the pressure off you. All you have to worry about is the rugby."

Gatland was dropped by Ireland in 2001 and then took Wasps to three premierships and a European Cup. He guided Wales to the 2008 Grand Slam title, his first season in charge.

Gatland has already topped Graham Henry's record of 140 tests in charge of New Zealand, Wales and the Lions. The 54-year-old Gatland has coached 143 tests with Ireland, Wales and the Lions.

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