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Hansen hits back at 'desperate, predictable' Gatland over Murray accusation

The All Blacks boss was not happy with accusations his side had attempted to injury Murray.

Murray Kinsella reports from Wellington

STEVE HANSEN HAS hit back at Warren Gatland’s suggestion that the All Blacks deliberately attempted to injure Conor Murray by targeting his standing leg after he had box-kicked the ball.

Speaking to Radio Sport after phoning in to The Devlin Radio Show directly himself, the All Blacks boss said the accusation was the sign of a “desperate” Gatland, and strongly denied that his team had been out to hurt the Ireland scrum-half.

Steve Hansen Hansen was not impressed with Gatland's comments. Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

“Well, it’s predictable comments from Gatland, isn’t it?” said Hansen. “Two weeks go it was that we cheated in the scrums, last week it was blocking, and now it’s this.

“It’s really, really disappointing to hear it because what he’s implying is that we are intentionally going out to injure somebody and that’s not the case.

“We’ve never been like that and as a New Zealander I would expect him to know the psyche that it’s not about intentionally trying to hurt anybody. It’s about playing hard and fair.

“It’s just really, really disappointing to hear him say that and take the gloss off not only the Test match but from his own team’s performance as well.

“I guess he might be a bit desperate or something, but I don’t know why he’s saying it.

“We’re trying to block down the kick and/or tackle him, both those things are legal. Just because he’s one of their key players, it doesn’t mean that he has the right to go around the park without being charged down or tackled.”

Gatland made the suggestion about the All Blacks on Sunday after the Lions arrived in Wellington, where the second Test will be played.

Kaino

Murray himself has previously accused Glasgow Warriors of employing the same perceived tactic, and this time the Lions’ anger centres around Jerome Kaino’s challenge on the scrum-half in the 10th minute of the first Test.

“There were a couple of times where he’s kicked and they’ve just pushed him to the ground after he’s box kicked, so I don’t know if it was a tactic,” said Gatland.

“From my point of view, if someone pushes him afterwards, that’s fine but diving at his leg… I know other teams have used that in the past and I think Joe [Schmidt] has come out and was pretty critical about that being tactic other teams have used against Conor.

“It’s just a safety issue for me. I’d hate to see someone dive at his leg and have him blow a knee and then wreck his rugby career.”

But Hansen insisted that Gatland was completely wrong in his suggestion of deliberate foul play on the All Blacks’ part, reiterating his disappointment and stressing that he felt the Lions boss was simply looking to distract from the first Test defeat.

Gatland also stated yesterday that he hadn’t seen too much expansive attacking rugby from the All Blacks in the first Test.

“They didn’t really play champagne rugby, did they?” said Gatland. “If we had played that way and won the game it would have been interesting to see what the reaction was.”

Warren Gatland Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Again, Hansen argued that Gatland was simply looking to deflect.

“I guess it’s another predictable comment from Gats, he’s looking to take the heat off his own team and that’s what you need to do as a coach, I suppose,” said Hansen.

This war of words is far from over, and the heat will only rise as the second Test ticks closer.

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