Sonny Bill ‘doesn’t know the rules’ - Hansen

Marlborough Express - - SPORT - MARC HINTON IN PARIS

Steve Hansen is clearly de­vel­op­ing a tol­er­ance for Sonny Bill Wil­liams’ brain ex­plo­sions – and at least this time his mer­cu­rial mid­fielder’s mo­ment of mad­ness did not cost the All Blacks a test match.

The All Blacks coach, who was also deal­ing with in­juries to hooker Dane Coles (pos­si­bly knee) and skip­per Kieran Read (mild groin strain) in the wake of a twopaced 38-18 vic­tory over France here, pro­duced a mild con­dem­na­tion of Wil­liams’ 47th-minute mind­flip in their Novem­ber test opener.

The 44-test dual Rugby World Cup-win­ner, who had played well in the open­ing half, some­how for­got he was play­ing rugby union, and not his ‘‘other’’ sport of rugby league, and bat­ted a well-weighted cross­kick dead from the in­goal area. In league that’s, as they say in these parts, de rigueur. In rugby it’s just dead­headed.

Wil­liams was im­me­di­ately sin­binned for what was deemed foul play in­goal, and upon re­view the French were also awarded a penalty try, which Hansen ad­mit­ted, af­ter re­ceiv­ing ad­vice from his trusted side­kick, was a fair call. It also proved the cat­a­lyst for a storm­ing French sec­ond-half come­back that turned a rout into a gen­uine con­test.

Wil­liams, of course, is no stranger to bad judg­ments in the heat of bat­tle. He was sent off in the first half of the sec­ond test against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons for a brain­less shoul­der charge to the head of An­thony Wat­son that prob­a­bly cost the All Blacks a se­ries vic­tory.

Hansen was not so much pro­tec­tive as fa­tal­is­tic about Wil­liams’ lat­est in­ci­dent (sure to fire up his crit­ics) at a packed Stade de France which turned the tide of the test. Af­ter trail­ing the All Blacks 31-5 at half­time, the home side closed to 31-18 a dozen min­utes into the sec­ond spell and ap­peared to have the New Zealan­ders reel­ing.

‘‘He doesn’t know the rules be­cause he was play­ing league,’’ said a cool and col­lected Hansen af­ter­wards. ‘‘In league you’re al­lowed to smash it over the dead­ball line. It’s a good les­son for Sonny and he knows next time to catch it, rather than bat it over the line.

‘‘I knew what Sonny did wasn’t le­gal. You’re not al­lowed to pat the ball over. A guy called John Kir­wan did it in a Ran­furly Shield game years ago against Can­ter­bury and got away with it. But we’ve moved on from that.’’

And Hansen ex­plained why his ini­tial exasperation over the penalty try soon turned to ac­cep­tance.

‘‘I was sur­prised un­til Fozzie [as­sis­tant coach Ian Foster] told me the rules. I didn’t re­alise that, once he com­mit­ted that foul play, he was then deemed to be in­vis­i­ble. If you com­mit foul play in­goal you’re not there. Once I un­der­stood that, it was ob­vi­ously go­ing to be a penalty try be­cause [Yoann Huget] might have caught it.’’

Hansen said Read’s groin strain, and 48th-minute sub­sti­tu­tion, was ‘‘not a big­gie’’ but made to avoid the risk of ag­gra­vat­ing it more. Coles’ sit­u­a­tion is po­ten­tially more se­ri­ous.

‘‘Dane is off to get a scan. It’s a bit of a mys­tery. I’m not sure what’s hap­pened. Doc tested him and all the lig­a­ments feel pretty sta­ble. He felt his foot get caught in the turf, but we’re not sure what he’s done.’’

Hansen lamented a sec­ond-half ‘‘loss of dis­ci­pline’’ that in­vited the French back into the test but said his frus­tra­tion lev­els were only sit­ting at five out of 10.

Sonny Bill Wil­liams

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.