All Blacks deny tar­get­ing Mur­ray

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: The All Blacks have con­tin­ued to fight off ques­tions about in­ten­tion­ally tar­get­ing Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions scrumhalf Conor Mur­ray in the first test, with loose for­ward Jerome Kaino re­peat­ing the team’s de­nial on Tues­day.

Lions coach Warren Gat­land stoked the fire on Sun­day when he said he thought the All Blacks had tar­geted Mur­ray dur­ing their 30-15 vic­tory in Auck­land the pre­vi­ous day to in­jure him as a way of nul­li­fy­ing his at­tack­ing box kicks.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dis­puted the claims, calling them “des­per­ate”, while as­sis­tant coach Ian Fos­ter said they were just part of the “noise” com­ing from an un­der­pres­sure Lions camp.

Kaino, the player at the cen­tre of the al­le­ga­tions, was pep­pered by re­porters about the in­ci­dent on Tues­day.

“No, it’s never our in­tent to go out and in­jure some­one,” Kaino said sev­eral times at a news con­fer­ence ahead of Satur­day’s sec­ond test in Welling­ton.

“I guess peo­ple have their opin­ions on it and all I can say is it wasn’t my in­ten­tion to go out there and tar­get his planted foot.

“It’s never nice when you have things done to you out­side the laws. The way we do things is within the spirit of the game.”

Kaino ad­mit­ted that he was not try­ing to tackle Mur­ray in the in­ci­dent which left the Ire­land scrumhalf on the ground but un­in­jured, say­ing he was at­tempt­ing to disrupt his kick and sim­ply missed. “I didn’t go in to tackle him. “I rolled into his leg. What I was try­ing to do was... his swing­ing foot, if you can disrupt that it’s like an an­kle tap so you can disrupt the kick,” the 34-year-old dou­ble World Cup win­ner said.

“My tim­ing was off and I rolled into his planted foot.”

Gat­land also said he would prob­a­bly talk to sec­ond test ref­eree Jerome Garces about be­ing ex­tra vig­i­lant at Welling­ton Re­gional Sta­dium, and Kaino said the All Blacks would also be more care­ful in the tack­les.

“Ob­vi­ously, there’s more at­ten­tion be­ing brought to it and it’s ob­vi­ously a strength of the Lions, that kick­ing game,” he said.

“We need to make sure we’re on the right side of the law when we do things. I thought I was there, but I’ll be a lit­tle bit more cau­tious.” – Reuters

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