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Foster sticks up for under-fire 'Gatty'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster says another war of words with the British and Irish Lions means only one thing.

There's a second big Test on the horizon.

Foster laughed off suggestions relations between management of both teams had soured following Lions coach Warren Gatland's accusations this week of foul play from the home side in their 30-15 first-Test win in Auckland.

Counterpart Steve Hansen hit back strongly in his players' defence, saying they never set out to harm Lions halfback Conor Murray with low, late tackles, as Gatland had intimated.

Adding fuel to the fire was a prominent cartoon in the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday which depicted Gatland as a clown.

Foster admitted he wouldn't want to suffer the same treatment but said a lot of the pre-Test banter and media reaction to it was simply part of what is one of rugby's biggest series.

"When there's a lot at stake, often there's lots of noise around games and people try and chuck things at you from different sides but at the end of the day it doesn't change a thing," he said.

"There's a few little issues floating around but at the end of the day, this is a titanic Test match."

The Lions have mysteriously cancelled their Wednesday media session ahead of Saturday's second Test in Wellington.

They have also delayed their Thursday team naming until the middle of the day, rather than early, leaving the All Blacks guessing for an extra five hours.

Foster, who has been good friends with Gatland since their days as provincial teammates at Waikato, says the former All Blacks hooker does things his own way.

His accusations around Murray would have had an ulterior motive, Foster believes.

"He's doing what he thinks he needs to do to," he said.

"We don't take it as personal, it's just what some people do.

"If we start sulking about that, then we're going to get upset and distracted. Isn't that the objective of it?

"We have to stay clear in our mind and focused in what we do."

Foster noted Gatland did something similar last week when he accused the All Blacks of blocking ahead of the first Test.

That accusation was ignored by the hosts, who produced a brutal, committed performance to go 1-0 up.

Foster says he is looking forward to a good catch-up with "Gatty" after the third Test in Auckland next week.

"You understand the pressure everyone's under when you're doing similar jobs," he said.

"At the end of the day it's important to catch up and have a yarn with people as mates."

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