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Blocking claims dismissed by All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

All Blacks players are refusing to get caught up in any early-week mind games offered by British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, who has accused New Zealand teams of "blocking" tactics.

Coach Steve Hansen may want to bite back later in the week but veteran forwards Jerome Kaino and Brodie Retallick were quick to dismiss Gatland's claims ahead of the first Test in Auckland on Saturday.

The Lions coach says he will meet Test referee Jaco Peyper to discuss the tactics, which, Gatland says, has been repeatedly used in the five tour matches so far.

Gatland says Kiwi players are adept at subtle blocking or holding methods on support runners which cause attacks to break down.

"There is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players or subtly holding players. We've raised it with the referees already," Gatland said.

He believes the most blatant examples came during the tourists' impressive 32-10 defeat of the Maori All Blacks on Saturday - which Peyper controlled - denying them several try-scoring opportunities.

Kaino says the tactics aren't exclusive to New Zealand teams.

"I think with every other team, there's fine margins within the rules," he said.

"If you can play to those as well as you can and protect your runner as well as you can, I don't see any problem.

"For us, we can't really go into a game worried about what the ref's going to rule on how we play the game.

"Within the 80 minutes, it's a matter of how fast we can adapt to what style they bring and how the refs are ruling on certain things."

Kaino describes South African Peyper as a fair official who is adept at keeping teams aware of concerns, making the game easier for players.

Kaino made a sound return to rugby in Friday's 78-0 drubbing of Samoa at Eden Park, having sat out the previous six weeks with a knee injury.

He felt fine and is ready for the obvious step-up in quality posed by the Lions at the same venue.

The 34-year-old is the only New Zealand squad member who faced the 2005 Lions, in a midweek match for Auckland.

A fringe All Black at that time, he fondly recalls the tour and noted how the current six-week Lions phenomenon was creating the same interest in New Zealand.

"The excitement started kicking in last week when we got into camp.

"I think things are starting to amplify now."

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