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Steve Hansen Blasts ''Desperate'' Gatland Over Conor Murray Accusations

Steve Hansen Blasts ''Desperate'' Gatland Over Conor Murray Accusations
By David Kent Updated

It's one thing to exert pressure on referees but another again to do it and then not believe the New Zealand public are smart enough to work out that you are doing it.The Lions tour is hotting up, as Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen continue their verbal battle. Hansen has the advantage currently after his All Blacks comfortably beat the Lions in the first Test on Saturday.

In the aftermath of that first Test, Warren Gatland was less than impressed with what he felt was the deliberate targeting of Conor Murray. Speaking in the aftermath of the match in Auckland, Gatland made the point about how New Zealand were charging down Murrays' box kicks. The Irishman was apparently being targeted.

The one concern for me... there was a charge down when someone dived at his legs which I thought was a little bit dangerous. After he's kicked he's been pushed a few times and pushed to the ground. They're not massive issues for us, it's just making sure he's protected and not harassed after he's box kicked.

They're actually diving blindly and hitting someone's leg. For me it's about protecting the players and making sure they're safe. We'll ask politely that the officials look at that and protect him.

All Blacks coach Hansen did not take those comments well. At all. So much so that he rang up the Devlin Radio Show at 9am local time today to give a rebuttal. His response was to point out that this wasn't the first time that Gatland had questioned the tactics of the Kiwis.

It was a predictable comment from Gatland isn’t it? Like two weeks ago, it was we cheated in the scrums. Last week it was blocking and now he’s saying this. But it’s really, really disappointing to hear it because what he’s implying is that we’re deliberately going out to injury someone and that’s not the case.

We’ve never been like that. It’s not about intentionally trying to hurt anybody, it’s about playing hard and fair. It was a great Test match. So it’s just really, really disappointing to hear him say that and to take away the gloss not only from the test match but his own team’s performance as well.

When questioned by host Martin Devlin as to why Gatland would say such a thing, Hansen came out strong.

I don’t know. I guess he might be a bit desperate or something, I’m not sure.

He’s implying that we’re trying to hurt the guy. Rugby is about playing within the laws, and in this case we’re trying to charge the kick down and/or tackle him.

Oof.

It should make the crucial second test a bit tenser. Gatland has already spoken about how he feels the Lions need more physicality - which could be bad news for Peter O'Mahony.

Hansen wasn't the only one unhappy with Gatland. Gregor Paul, writing for the New Zealand Herald, tore into the Lions boss, accusing him of bullying referees.

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Warren Gatland seems to be on a one-man crusade to sabotage the carefully planned British & Irish Lions charm offensive campaign.

For the fourth time on this tour, he's used the public domain to air concerns and grievances about the conduct of New Zealand teams. It's one thing to exert pressure on referees but another again to do it and then not believe the New Zealand public are smart enough to work out that you are doing it.

It's reached the point when it is maybe best to just shake the head and smile and realise that this is the painful unravelling of someone under too much pressure. What rugby doesn't need is the most experienced international coach in the game continuing to bully referees.

It all kicks off again on Saturday morning.

SEE ALSO: All Blacks Star Has Had A Random Lions Supporter Sleeping On His Floor

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