All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has slammed Rassie Erasmus’ comments about officiating ahead of the titanic clash in Yokohama. JON CARDINELLI in Tokyo reports.
Earlier this week, Mzwandile Stick suggested that referees tend to give the All Blacks the benefit of the doubt whenever there is a 50/50 call.
The Bok assistant coach called for officials to adopt a more accurate approach at the World Cup tournament in Japan. He highlighted the importance of treating the respective teams as equals and went as far to say that the fans deserve to see a fair contest.
Rassie Erasmus expanded on the point at the Bok team announcement on Wednesday. The Bok coach said that everybody – including referees – respects the best team in the world and that can result in officials developing preconceived ideas about the No 1 side’s dominance.
Hansen hit back at Erasmus’ comments on Thursday. The All Blacks coach feels that the referee for the match, Jerome Garces, should not be influenced one way or another.
‘It’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to do,’ Hansen said with a shake of the head. ‘While I’ve got a lot respect for South Africa and Rassie – who I think is a great coach – I don’t agree with what he’s doing.
‘He’s trying to put pressure on the referee externally. They’re under enough pressure already without coaches to be doing what he’s doing.’
Like Stick and Erasmus, Hansen used the media opportunity to make a few subtle suggestions of his own.
Whether he was sketching a dull picture of the Bok game plan or suggesting that the South Africans need to learn to accept the officials’ decisions, he was having a go.
‘As a coach or a team, you can always find things after the game that the ref didn’t do. You can get emotional about that and think that they’re picking on you and not on the opposition.
‘We’ve done that ourselves. At the end of the day the refs go out there to do the best they can. Yes, they don’t get it right a lot of the time and we suffer from that, just like other teams.
‘It’s a big game and we need to let the referee get on with it and prepare.’
When he was asked about the perception that the All Blacks are vulnerable ahead of the showdown with the Boks, Hansen shook his head once more.
‘It’s like what we heard ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were too old.
‘You get two types of people. One group don’t want us to win, because it’s not in their interests for us to win. The other desperately wants us to win. They’re nervous because we haven’t played any games,’ Hansen said.
‘We’ve got to get rid of all that noise. It’s pretty meaningless noise. They’re people with opinions who have no idea about what’s happening in some of these teams.
‘It’s based on the fact that they love rugby. It’s not something that they do maliciously, but it is something that happens at every World Cup.
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