put down

'He was trying a bit of humour after struggling a wee bit with his press conference'

Steve Hansen didn’t have too much time for Warren Gatland’s comments last night.

Murray Kinsella reports from Christchurch

STEVE HANSEN HAS blankly rejected Warren Gatland’s suggestion that there won’t be a major difference in quality between New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides and the All Blacks.

Speaking after the Lions’ 22-16 defeat to the Blues in Auckland last night, Gatland stated that he believes the gulf won’t be huge.

Steve Hansen Hansen didn't have too much time for Gatland's comments. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I don’t think there is going to be a lot of difference between some of the Super Rugby sides and the All Blacks,” said Gatland. “These guys have been together for seven months and the All Blacks are coming together cold.

“There is a massive amount of strength in depth and I don’t think an awful lot of difference between the teams.”

But speaking today after naming his 33-man All Blacks squad to face the Lions over three Tests, Hansen witheringly talked down Gatland’s comments.

The All Blacks boss also said that Gatland’s theory was a response to the flak the Lions head coach had taken after showing irritation at the ongoing debate around ‘Warrenball’.

I just think he was trying a bit of humour after struggling a wee bit with his press conference before,” said Hansen.

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between Super Rugby and Test rugby. I don’t know what his thinking is.”

While Hansen happily put down Gatland’s suggestion, he did stress that he believes the Lions will push the All Blacks in this Test series, whatever happens in the warm-up games.

“I’ve always said this and I still believe it, this is the best Lions side to come here,” said Hansen. “To be arriving on the Wednesday and playing on the Saturday is just too tough. We wouldn’t do it.

Warren Gatland Gatland's comments were met with derision in many quarters. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“You can look at the first performance and let it go, and last night there were still guys out there trying to find out who their mate is. They’re in the infancy of this tour, they’ll only get better, and they’ll be a good side when the Tests come round.

“It’s well documented they only want to win the Test matches and Gatland has made that very, very clear. The first Test is all he has his eyes on and I don’t think he’s too bothered about what happens between now and then.

“We won’t be foolish enough to rock up and think we can just expect a soft game. We’ll get the kitchen sink thrown at us.”

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