Living up to the Gatland name is hard enough, but for Bryn, the 22-year-old fly-half who will face the British and Irish Lions this Saturday, he will do so knowing that he can emulate his father’s success if he comes out on the winning side.
That will be a tough ask, given that Bryn Gatland starts for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, the weakest team that the Lions will face on their 10-match tour of. But he does have history to live up to, and if he can live up to the high-billing he’s been given in the build-up to the match in Whangarei, you just never know what might happen.
It was young Gatland whose drop-goal secured North Harbour victory in the Mie 10 Cup Championship final last year and promotion to the national Provincial Championship, having made the bold decision to leave Waikato, the side he had been with since 2006.
There will be plenty of eyes on the stand-off come Saturday night as the locals look to him and the rest of the Provincial Barbarians side to derail the Lions at the first hurdle.
Rewind 24 years, and it was Gatland senior who was doing the derailing. Take a glimpse at the 1993 Waikato Chiefs side that faced the Lions between the second and third Tests against the All Blacks and you will see the name ‘Warren Gatland’ on the No 2 shirt.
The pair will speak ahead of the match, and again so afterwards, but during that 80 minutes on the pitch, Gatland insists it will be business as usual for his Lions side.
“It's not an emotional occasion, I have joked with him that we both would have played against the Lions and it's unfortunate that only one of us would have won,” said Warren Gatland. “I desperately hope that is the case.”
It is a belief that is shared throughout the Lions squad, with the man who will line-up opposite Bryn on Saturday admitting that he has been impressed with what he’s seen of the young New Zealander.
“I’m sure Gats would like his son to play really well and to lose heavily but we've had a look at him on the videos and he seems to be a really good young up and coming player, trying to make a name for himself,” noted Lions fly-half Jonthan Sexton.
“I think a lot of the guys on Saturday will be in that boat where it will be a once in a lifetime chance to play against the Lions, not only progress their career.”
Bryn has also spent time training with the Wales national team when invited by his father, giving the likes of Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau, two of the Lions’ back-row that will put a target on his back, a good idea of what they will face in their very first match of the 2017 tour.
Yet if he can take a leave out of Warren’s playbook, maybe, just maybe, there will be another reason to celebrate in the Gatland household, though it might make things a bit awkward with dad for the next few weeks.
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