Steve Hansen has shrugged off criticism from former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes describing the All Blacks as cynical cheats in a newspaper column.
In a regular piece for the Sunday Times, Barnes wrote that Hansen was looking to fill the gap left by retired captain Richie McCaw by selecting three openside flanks in New Zealand’s 31-man squad for the World Cup.
Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Matt Todd, who have all played for New Zealand in the No 7 jersey, have been named in the official squad. Cane and Savea were paired in the loose trio during the latter stages of the Rugby Championship.
‘New Zealand, the most positive attacking team in the world, have their flip side. They are also the most cynical cheats at a breakdown,’ Barnes wrote.
After arriving in Hamilton for a final World Cup warm-up against Tonga, Hansen dismissed Barnes’ comments and defended his team’s breakdown tactics.
‘I hadn’t even given it any thought, waste of time,’ Hansen told local media. ‘We’re no different to any other team at the breakdown. But he’s got to say something because he’s got to sell his papers. So let’s not get caught up and buy into that.
‘If he thinks that’s why we’re carrying three opensides, that’s good, carry on thinking that. It couldn’t be further from the truth.’
The All Blacks will be waiting on a medical report on flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, who is battling a shoulder injury sustained against the Wallabies in Auckland. The 24-year-old Josh Ioane could be given his debut this weekend should Mo’unga be ruled out.
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