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'They are actually diving blindly and hitting someone's leg' - Gatland

The Lions boss was not happy with how the All Blacks targeted Conor Murray.

Murray Kinsella reports from Wellington

WARREN GATLAND SAYS he will speak to referee Jerome Garces about the All Blacks’ targeting of Conor Murray before the Lions’ second Test on Saturday in Wellington, as he questioned the legality of the Kiwis’ tactics.

Murray felt he was hit late after kicking on a number of occasions during last night’s first Test in Auckland and Gatland has doubts as to whether the All Blacks were actually attempting to block the ball down.

Munster and Murray accused Glasgow Warriors of targeting the scrum-half’s standing leg as be box-kicked in a Champions Cup game in January, and Gatland suggested that the All Blacks had used a similar tactic.

Incidents like the one below are at the centre of the Lions’ grievances, with All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino taking out Murray’s standing leg after the scrum-half has kicked in this instance.

Murray

Asked about the general refereeing performance of Jaco Peyper in Saturday’s first Test, Gatland pointed to the Lions’ doubts around the legality of the All Blacks’ tactics in this instance.

“The one concern for me was that there were a couple of times from Conor Murray where there was a charge down where someone dived at his legs,” said Gatland.

“And I thought that’s a little bit dangerous, and after he’s kicked he’s been pushed a few times, pushed to the ground.

“So they are not massive issues for us, but just making sure he’s being looked after and protected and not harassed after he’s box kicked. So we’ll probably just get some clarity from the ref later in the week.”

Back in January, Murray said he was “properly pissed off” at how Glasgow had tackled his standing leg, stating that he saw it “as a danger or as a potential to get injured.”

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt came out in support of his scrum-half in the aftermath of that Champions Cup tie, pointing out that blocking down a kick from the blindside was an unrealistic prospect.

“You can’t charge a ball down from the blindside, you have got to go through the standing leg and the potential for injury there is clearly evident,” said Schmidt.

And Gatland acknowledged that this has been an issue for Murray before, with the Lions boss questioning the motivation behind the All Blacks’ efforts.

Conor Murray dejected Murray has been hit in this manner before. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Yeah he has [had previous in this area], and it’s a little bit tough,” said Gatland.

“When you see someone dive at someone’s leg and it’s blind, you feel for the player, and it’s a little bit concerning that they are actually not trying to charge the kick down, because they are nowhere near it.

“They are actually diving blindly and hitting someone’s leg.

“So for me it’s just about protecting the players, making sure they are safe and that’s my biggest concern. So I’ll just be asking politely that the officials look at that and make sure they protect him.”

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