You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

All Blacks physical but fair: Lions back

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24:  Kieran Read of the All Blacks catches the ball during the Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 24, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) © Getty Images AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24: Kieran Read of the All Blacks catches the ball during the Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 24, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) British and Irish Lions back Robbie Henshaw has contradicted the belief of his coach Warren Gatland, saying the All Blacks play physical but fair rugby.

Gatland lit a fuse under this week's second Test in Wellington by accusing New Zealand players of targeting Conor Murray illegally during the Lions' first Test loss in Auckland.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen launched a fierce defence of his players, saying Gatland's comments that players deliberately tried to injure the halfback with late hits were "desperate" and wrong.

Henshaw said in his experience, the All Blacks play within the bounds of what is a bruising sport by its very nature.

"I don't think New Zealand take it too far, sometimes in the moment people may get their entry wrong, stick out an arm and hit someone high," the Ireland second five-eighth said.

"It's not intentional and people make mistakes.

"But obviously it's down to the officials what happens on the pitch, and needs to be taken care of."

If anybody could complain about New Zealand over-physicality, it's Henshaw.

The 24-year-old was on the receiving end of a lifting tackle from Joe Moody which earned the All Blacks prop a yellow card during last November's Irish triumph in Chicago.

Two weeks later, Henshaw was stretchered from the field in Dublin after taking a high shot from Sam Cane which earned the flanker a citing. Cane was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Henshaw didn't want to get caught up in the debate over whether Murray had been targeted during the Lions' 30-15 loss at Eden Park.

He says that call has to be made by match officials.

"If the guy's clearly going for a block down and going for the ball, and he follows through and hits the player that's not his fault," he said.

"But if he's nowhere near the ball and he's hit our guy off the ball, it needs to be looked at.

"But at the moment we're okay about it. We know teams are going after our key players to put them under pressure and to try to shut down our key players."

Henshaw lines up in the Lions team to face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Tuesday, in what is their last midweek match of the tour.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon