Rob Howley has revealed that Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien has apologised to him following critical remarks he made of his coaching during the British and Irish Lions' New Zealand tour earlier this year.
O’Brien, a pivotal Lions performer during a pulsating drawn three-Test series against the All Blacks, claimed in a series of interviews last month that the Lions could have won the series 3-0, and he also aimed verbal fire at Lions assistant coach Howley, who had responsibility for their attacking game.
“We spoke on the phone (last week),” Howley added. “Obviously, I was disappointed to hear his comments and felt there would have been a better forum to raise those comments on tour.
“He felt he enjoyed the tour, had a good time and a lot of the good stuff he said wasn’t reported.
“You move on. I have the greatest respect for Sean O’Brien, and I thought he was outstanding on the Lions tour.
“Sean has made his comments, and it is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, isn’t it? It will soon be forgotten. He has apologised.”
Howley also announced that he will leave his coaching role with Wales after the 2019 World Cup.
Howley was appointed as Wales attack coach and one of Warren Gatland’s assistants in 2008. But the former Wales captain has confirmed he will step down in two years’ time, along with Gatland, and revealed ambitions to become a club head coach or rugby director.
New Zealander Gatland’s reign in charge of Wales ends when the 2019 World Cup campaign draws to a close.
Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies recently announced that it is hoped Gatland's successor will be appointed by next summer. A three-man shortlist has already been drawn up.