WARREN GATLAND has spoken out for the first time on the tragic death of his four-month old daughter.
The Wales head coach was 28 when his daughter Shauna was born in a Galway hospital.
Warren Gatland with his wife Trudi during the British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand[/caption]
And he recalled: “I still remember it was a misty old morning when we drove to the hospital the previous day.”
“The pregnancy had gone smoothly; we had some scans but obviously they weren’t as detailed as they are now.
“We were so excited. I was really looking forward to fatherhood.
“When our daughter Shauna arrived, she was a good weight, around seven-and-a-half pounds, and all seemed well.
“But minutes later I remember looking across to see that one of the nurses was crying and suddenly specialists were rushing in. I didn’t understand what was happening.”
It would turn out that Shauna was born with spina bifida – a condition in which the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb.
A scan would later confirm the severity of the condition and convince the couple, after consulting the hospital’s professor of paediatrics, to make the heartbreaking decision not to go ahead with surgery.
And Gatland said that the decision of his Irish club at the time, Galwegians, to allow him to fly back to New Zealand to allow Shauna and wife Trudi to spend time with his extended family helped to make him the coach he is today.
He commented: “We were beyond grief.
“I said that the game [a promotion play-off] was huge and that they had invested a lot of money in me but the message from the club was ‘your family is more important’ and that I should take them back to Hamilton.
“After a while I phoned the club to thank them for allowing me to bring Trudi and Shauna back home where we had the support of our extended family.
“I have always had some core values such as work ethic and what it means to put the jersey on.
“But family is really important too.
“If you get things right off the pitch with partners and families at home then you always get more from a player.
“I don’t think people realise the impact it can have on a team when you get the environment right.”