Henshaw defends All Blacks
Irishman convinced New Zealand toe the disciplinary line
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.”