The former England rugby coach Clive Woodward accused the Western Force of contempt for fielding a second string lineup against the British and Irish Lions in their opening tour match last night in Perth.
The home coach Michael Foley said a crowded schedule, in which the Force play two games in five days, meant he had little choice but to leave leading players out of the match, but Woodward described the move as disgraceful, saying the Lions should seriously consider whether it's worth returning to Australia in 12 years' time.
The Lions won 69-17 but they're desperate to test themselves against a full-strength Super Rugby side before the first Test against Australia on June 22.
The Force are bottom of the Australian conference in Super Rugby with only three wins from their 14 matches but they did manage to run in two tries against the Lions as well as disrupt a couple of lineout throws by Rory Best in the first half.
Gatland, an assistant coach in the Lions' 2009 tour of South Africa, said weakened opposition there had led to a dismal display in the first half of the first test against the Springboks when they were blown off the ball by the home side's physicality.
Meanwhile, an Australian Rugby Union spokesman Peter Jenkins says when the Lions last toured Australia in 2001 a number of test players were stood down from some of the provincial matches.
Jenkins says Woodward's claims do not take into account that the depth of Australian rugby has increased considerably in the past 12 years.
He says in 2001, Australia had a pool of professional players that would not have topped 100 where as now it has 175 players on professional contracts.