Hansen slams ‘desperate’ Gatland

Steve Hansen has slammed Warren Gatland for claiming that the All Blacks deliberately tried to injure Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray in Auckland.

Gatland accused the world champions of trying to take Murray's standing leg out as he kicked the ball, risking a potential career-ending injury.

'It’s just a safety issue for me,' he said. 'I’d hate to see someone dive at his leg and have him blow a knee and then wreck his rugby career. There were also a couple of times where he’s kicked and they’ve just pushed him to the ground after he’s box-kicked so I don’t know if it was a tactic.

'We’ll probably get some clarity from the referee later in the week. It’s just making sure he’s being looked after and protected and not harassed after he’s box-kicked. I thought that was a little bit dangerous.'

An irate Hansen phoned into New Zealand’s Radio Sport to respond to what he described were 'disappointing' comments.

'It's predictable comments from Gatland, isn't it?' Hansen said. 'Two weeks ago we cheated in the scrums and last week it was blocking and now he's saying this. It's really, really disappointing to hear it because what he's implying is we're intentionally going out to injure somebody.

'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.

OPINION: Lions must stick to their guns

'If you look at the Test match, what a great match,' he added. 'Both teams earned the respect of each other, a physical contest that at the time no one was complaining about anything off-key, and the fans that watched it loved it, so it’s just really disappointing to hear him say that and take away the gloss off not only the Test match, but his own team’s performance as well.

'I guess he might be a bit desperate or something, but I’m not sure.'

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt