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Hansen calls on media to lay off Gatland ahead of 2nd test

Associated Press logo Associated Press 29/06/2017

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen watches his team train in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The All Blacks play the British and Irish Lions in the second test on Saturday. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP) © The Associated Press All Blacks coach Steve Hansen watches his team train in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The All Blacks play the British and Irish Lions in the second test on Saturday. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP) All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has called a truce in his war of words with British and Irish Lions opposite Warren Gatland, saying he hopes to enjoy a beer with his rival when the three-test series is over.

Hansen chided New Zealand media on Thursday for their treatment of New Zealand-born Gatland, especially over the publication in an Auckland newspaper of a cartoon which depicted the Lions coach as a clown.

Gatland and Hansen have sparred verbally on several occasions during the Lions tour, most-recently when Gatland accused the All Blacks of attempting to injure Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray during last weekend's first test at Auckland.

On that occasion, Hansen sought a right of reply of a New Zealand sports radio station and called Gatland's comments desperate and disappointing.

But on Thursday, three days out from the second test which may decide the outcome of the three-test series, Hansen appealed to New Zealand media to leave Gatland alone.

"It's one thing to have a bit of banter and then you guys beef it up to be something bigger than it really is," Hansen said. "I've heard you say that I don't like him and we won't have a beer.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, right, fields questions during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The All Blacks play the British and Irish Lions in the second test on Saturday. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP) © The Associated Press All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, right, fields questions during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The All Blacks play the British and Irish Lions in the second test on Saturday. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP)

"I've got a lot of respect for him. I think he's a good coach ... but to come out and (with a cartoon) you're ridiculing someone who doesn't deserve it.

"At the end of the day we're coaches trying to do what we think is right. Sometimes people don't agree with what we do and that's okay...you're entitled to have your opinion but to ridicule someone is not right."

Hansen said he would not engage in any future public banter with Gatland, concerned by how it might be portrayed.

The New Zealand coach said media "are having a field day at the moment between Gats and I so I'm not feeding that."

Told of Hansen's comments, Gatland expressed surprise that any feud existed.

"I think I've been pretty mild," he said. "I've tried to be complimentary of the All Blacks, obviously they're the best team in the world and it's been a great experience for us as a team. The hospitality in New Zealand has been unbelievable, the treatment we've had from the fans and wherever we've been has been absolutely brilliant.

"I don't know if there's any hostility from this side but hopefully we can have good game of rugby."

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland watches play during the first test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) © The Associated Press British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland watches play during the first test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

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