Hen­shaw de­fends All Blacks

Ir­ish­man con­vinced New Zealand toe the dis­ci­plinary line

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Rob­bie Hen­shaw says New Zealand do not over­step rugby’s phys­i­cal bound­aries as the war of words around Conor Mur­ray’s Test match treat­ment rages on. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen called a ra­dio sta­tion to brand Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions coun­ter­part War­ren Gat­land “des­per­ate” for de­mand­ing ref­er­ees hand scrum-half Mur­ray greater pro­tec­tion when he is kick­ing.

Gat­land had hit out at the All Blacks tar­get­ing Mur­ray’s stand­ing leg when box-kick­ing in the Lions’ 30-15 first Test de­feat on Satur­day, leav­ing Hansen so in­censed he called into a ra­dio show to re­spond. Hen­shaw was knocked un­con­scious by Sam Cane’s head-high shoul­der charge in Ire­land’s 21-9 loss to New Zealand in Dublin on Novem­ber 19 last year, but still re­mains con­vinced the All Blacks toe the dis­ci­plinary line.

“We know how phys­i­cal they are as a team, and it’s Test rugby,” Ire­land cen­tre Hen­shaw said. “For us also phys­i­cal­ity is one of the fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents in rugby. Ev­ery­one uses it in abun­dance.

“I don’t think New Zealand take it too far, some­times in the mo­ment peo­ple may get their en­try wrong, stick out an arm and hit some­one high. It’s not in­ten­tional and peo­ple make mis­takes.” Hen­shaw was put out of com­mis­sion by flanker Cane’s high shoul­der hit when Ire­land were downed by New Zealand in the sec­ond of two Novem­ber Tests.

Asked if the Lions can add ex­tra pro­tec­tion when half­back Mur­ray lines up a box kick, Hen­shaw said: “Not nec­es­sar­ily, be­cause if you came in to block you’d give a penalty away. All you can do is stand your ground.

“If the guy’s clearly go­ing for a block down and go­ing for the ball, and he fol­lows through and hits the player that’s not his fault.

“But if he’s nowhere near the ball and he’s hit our guy off the ball, it needs to be looked at. “But at the mo­ment we’re OK about it. We know teams are go­ing af­ter our key play­ers to put them un­der pres­sure and to try to shut down our key play­ers.”

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