Hansen: Gat­land car­toon dis­ap­point­ing

New Zealand coach de­fends his Lions coun­ter­part

The National - News - Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

Steve Hansen has leapt to Warren Gat­land’s de­fence af­ter the

New Zealand Her­ald mocked up the Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions head coach as a car­toon clown. The New Zealand coach de­scribed the move as “re­ally dis­ap­point­ing” and un­der­lined his re­spect for Gat­land as the ri­val head coaches pre­pare for bat­tle in to­mor­row’s sec­ond Test at West­pac Stadium.

Hansen’s com­ments at his pre­match news con­fer­ence to­day served as a wel­come respite af­ter pre­vi­ous ver­bal joust­ing.

Gat­land this week laughed off New Zealand’s daily news­pa­per pub­lish­ing a sec­ond clown car­i­ca­ture of him in six months. And he con­ceded he was non­plussed by Hansen call­ing a ra­dio sta­tion to ob­ject to the Lions boss crit­i­cis­ing New Zealand’s “dan­ger­ous” tar­get­ing of scrum-half Conor Mur­ray dur­ing last week­end’s first Test in Auck­land.

“You guys are hav­ing a field day at the mo­ment be­tween Gats and I, so I am not feed­ing it,” Hansen said. “You are al­lud­ing to the car­toon? You may as well go straight there. It makes it eas­ier to an­swer the ques­tion.

“I think it is re­ally dis­ap­point­ing. 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. I have heard you say that I don’t like him.

“I have got a lot of re­spect for him. I think he is a good coach. I have got a lot of re­spect for the Lions. They are a good team. To come out and do that, you are ridi­cul­ing some­body that doesn’t de­serve it.

“At the end of the day, we are all coaches try­ing to do what we think is right.

“Some­times, peo­ple don’t al­ways agree with what we do, but that’s okay. You are al­lowed to have your opin­ion. But to ridicule some­one is not right. It’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing, re­ally. “I read some­where where I lashed out at Warren Gat­land. I haven’t lashed out at Warren Gat­land at all. I have got a lot of re­spect for him.

“We’ve got a lot of com­mon in­ter­ests. He likes rac­ing horses, so do I. He coaches Wales. I’ve been through that ex­pe­ri­ence my­self. 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 think that’s not ac­tu­ally how it went.” Hansen, mean­while, con­firmed full-back Ben Smith will not be in­volved in the re­main­der of the Lions Test se­ries af­ter suf­fer­ing con­cus­sion last week­end. Is­rael Dagg has moved from the wing to re­place Smith, with Waisake Na­holo wear­ing the No 14 shirt to­mor­row and cen­tre An­ton Lienert-Brown tak­ing over from ham­string in­jury vic­tim Ryan Crotty.

Smith has been con­cussed pre­vi­ously this year, and Hansen added: “Even if he was [fit], we wouldn’t be play­ing him. We have de­cided al­ready, re­gard­less of how he goes through the pro­to­cols, that we won’t play him next week. “Long-term con­cerns have been al­layed. We are just go­ing to take our time with him and get him back where we need him to be so he is com­fort­able, we are com­fort­able.

“If he passes the pro­to­cols, he could play, but we are just of the opin­ion that he’s had a cou­ple [of con­cus­sions], so let’s just be a lit­tle bit con­ser­va­tive and not play him.”

Steven Hansen, left, says he re­spects Warren Gat­land.

Ha­gen Hop­kins & David Rogers / Getty Images

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