All Blacks coach tells me­dia to lay off Gat­land

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - Sport -

ALL Blacks coach Steve Hansen said yes­ter­day the me­dia needed to stop ridi­cul­ing Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions coach War­ren Gat­land and dis­puted any sug­ges­tion of an­i­mos­ity between the pair.

He also re­fused to en­gage in a war of words with jour­nal­ists over po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous play by Lions play­ers in the first Test, de­scrib­ing rugby as “a big boy’s game”.

The Lions tour of New Zealand has been filled with barbs from both sides, with Hansen var­i­ously call­ing Gat­land “des­per­ate” and “pre­dictable” while the Lions coach has claimed he had Hansen “wor­ried” and ac­cused the All Blacks of de­lib­er­ate foul play. But in the count­down to the sec­ond Test in Welling­ton on Satur­day, with the Lions need­ing to win to keep the se­ries alive, Hansen poured cold wa­ter on talk of mutual dis­like between the coaches, both of them New Zealan­ders.

He claimed it was an is­sue ramped up by the me­dia and took par­tic­u­lar ex­cep­tion to one lo­cal news­pa­per car­toon de­pict­ing Gat­land as a clown.

“To ridicule some­one is not right and a bit dis­ap­point­ing really,” Hansen said.

“It’s one thing to have a bit of ban­ter and then you guys beef it up to make it big­ger than it really is, so to come out and do that (car­toon) I think you’re ridi­cul­ing some­body that doesn’t de­serve it.

“I read some­where that I ‘lashed out at War­ren Gat­land’. I haven’t lashed out at Gat­land, at all. I’ve got a lot of re­spect for him and I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a beer with him and a chuckle about life. “It’s the me­dia that ramp it up be­cause it sells you guys news­pa­pers. Who am I to say stop it? But I do look at it and say ‘well, that’s ac­tu­ally not how it went’.”

Although Gat­land has sug­gested the All Blacks may have been try­ing to de­lib­er­ately in­jure Lions play­ers in the first Test, Hansen re­fused to bite when ques­tioned about du­bi­ous in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Lions prop Mako Vu­nipola.

“There’s no point drag­ging stuff up,” he coun­tered. – AFP

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NOT HAV­ING IT: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

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