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Hansen angered by Gatland foul play claims

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

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Steve Hansen has fired straight back at British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, who accused the All Blacks of dangerous and cynical play in the first Test.

New Zealand coach Hansen contacted a radio station on Monday morning to respond to Gatland's claims on Sunday night that Lions halfback Conor Murray had been illegally targeted at Eden Park on Saturday.

Gatland alleged the All Blacks forwards tried to take out Murray's legs or pushed him after box kicks late during the home team's 30-15 win. Such actions had the potential to "wreck his career", he said.

Gatland plans to meet French referee Jerome Garces to highlight the issue ahead of the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.

Hansen rubbished Gatland's claims, describing them as predictable and desperate.

"It's really, really disappointing to hear it because what he's implying is we're intentionally going out to injure somebody," Hansen told Radio Sport.

"That's not the case. We've never been like that and as a New Zealander I'd expect him to know the New Zealand psyche that it's not about intentionally trying to hurt anybody, it's about playing hard and fair."

Steve Hansen is fuming at claims by British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland that halfback Conor Murray's safety was endangered by the All Blacks. © David Rogers/Getty Images Steve Hansen is fuming at claims by British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland that halfback Conor Murray's safety was endangered by the All Blacks. Relations between the coaches, tepid in the lead-up to the first Test, have plunged to a new low.

Hansen says Gatland is losing touch with reality, saying his players are entitled to either try to charge down kicks or effect a tackle.

"Two weeks ago we cheated in the scrums and last week it was blocking and now he's saying this.

"It's just disappointing after such a great test match, two days later or whatever, he's come out and saying something like that."

Two incidents appear to have earned the ire of Gatland.

All Blacks flanker Kaino tackled Murray low after a kick in the 10th minute of the Test while lock Brodie Retallick pushed him in the 38th minute.

"You feel for the player and it's a bit concerning that they're not trying to charge the kick down because they're nowhere near it," Gatland said.

"They're actually diving and hitting someone's leg."

Neither incident resulted in a penalty during the Test, nor a citing afterwards.

All Blacks props Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina were bemused by the war of words.

Crockett denied there was any deliberate attempt to injury Murray but admitted they had gone out to pressurise the world class Irish No.9.

"We try to put a lot of pressure on every kicker, we try to force them to do a poor kick," he said.

"We're trying to get it so we can attack off that poor kick. Every team in the world's trying to do the same thing."

Faumuina noted the All Blacks, and many Super Rugby teams, will often put blockers around the edge of rucks to protect a kicking halfback.

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton and New Zealand's Kieran Read lift the Series Trophy after the series is drawn during the third test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland In pics: Lions tour of New Zealand
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