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Hansen fends off perceived Gatland stoush

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

An unlikely figure has leapt to the defence of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland following his depiction as a cartoon clown in a national newspaper.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described the image as disappointing, along with some of the other treatment his fellow-New Zealander has received in the media throughout the tour.

In a lengthy plea to more than 70 journalists on Thursday, at a press conference ahead of the second Test, Hansen said a line had been crossed in coverage of the series.

"Sometimes people don't always agree with what we do and that's all right. But to ridicule someone's not right," Hansen said.

"Warren doesn't deserve it.

"I've got a lot of respect for him. I think he's a good coach and I'm looking forward to having a beer with him and a chuckle about life."

Gatland provoked the hosts ahead of the first Test with accusations of All Blacks blocking off the ball.

Hansen hit back with some mind games of his own ahead of his team's 30-15 win at Eden Park.

Gatland was at it again early in the buildup to Saturday's second Test in Wellington, intimating the hosts set out to deliberately injury Lions halfback Conor Murray, earning a sharp rebuke from Hansen.

Those exchanges are all part of the game, Hansen said, but the media had taken its coverage further than necessary.

Gatland appeared ready to smoke the peace pipe too, describing his comments so far on tour as "pretty mild".

"I've tried to be complimentary of the All Blacks, they're the best team in the world.

"I don't think there is any hostility from this side, hopefully we can have a good game and beer afterwards."

Adding a twist to the coaching rivalry, Hansen revealed England coach Eddie Jones was in Wellington.

The former Wallabies mentor had texted him and the pair plan to catch up.

"He's a character, he's a good man, he's got plenty of banter in him and he enjoys it," Hansen said.

"And I quite enjoy reading it. Doesn't mean to say I don't like him."

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