Steve Hansen: Warren Gatland's complaints over Conor Murray treatment 'might be a bit desperate'

Steve Hansen: Warren Gatland's complaints over Conor Murray treatment 'might be a bit desperate'

By Simon Lewis, Wellington

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has reacted furiously to Warren Gatland's “desperate” and “predictable” suggestion his players have deliberately tried to injure Lions scrum-half Conor Murray.

Murray was knocked off his standing foot by New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino after box-kicking from the base of a ruck in the early stages of Saturday's 30-15 first Test defeat for the Lions at Eden Park, a repeat of the treatment the Munster star was given by Glasgow forwards during the season which led the player to go public with his dissatisfaction.

Having arrived in Wellington for this Saturday's second Test and with the Lions needing a win to take the series to a third and deciding contest on July 8 back in Auckland, Gatland suggested that the dive was not an attempt to charge down the kick but a deliberate aim at Murray's non-kicking leg and was “a little bit dangerous”.

“Conor has had a bit of treatment like that previously. It’s a little bit tough. When you see someone dive at someone’s leg, you feel for the player,” Gatland said on Sunday.

“It’s a little bit concerning that they are not actually trying to charge the kick down because they are nowhere near it. They are actually diving blindly and hitting someone’s leg.

Steve Hansen: Warren Gatland's complaints over Conor Murray treatment 'might be a bit desperate'

“For me, it’s just about protecting the players and making sure they are safe. That’s my biggest concern. I will just be asking politely that the officials look at that and make sure they protect him.”

Hours later, on Monday morning New Zealand time, after Gatland's words were reported in the New Zealand media, Hansen made an appearance on Sport Radio NZ and let fly.

"It's predictable coming from Gatland, two weeks ago we cheated in the scrums, last week it was blocking, now we're saying this," Hansen said.

"It's really, really disappointing to hear what he's implying, that we are intentionally going out to injure somebody. That is not the case, we've never been like that, and as a New Zealander I expect him to know the New Zealand psyche. It's not about intentionally trying to hurt anyone, it's about playing hard and fair.

"Wasn't it a great Test...both sets of players earned the respect of each other in a physical contest. At the time no one was complaining about anything being off key. The fans who watched it loved it, so it's really, really disappointing to hear him say that...to take away not only the gloss of the Test match but from his own team's performance as well."

When asked by radio host Martin Devlin what he believed had motivated Gatland's comments, Hansen replied: "I don't know, I guess he might be a bit desperate or something. I don't know why he would be saying it.

"He's implying that we're trying to hurt the guy. Rugby is about playing within the laws. In this case we're trying to charge the kick down and or tackle him. Both those things are legal - that's what the game is built around.

"Just because he (Murray) is one of their key players, he doesn't have the right to go around the park without being charged down or tackled. After such a great Test match, on Monday (Gatland) comes out and is saying something like that."

More on this topic

Warren Gatland confident Lions will be 'primed' for Springboks as itinerary is releasedWarren Gatland confident Lions will be 'primed' for Springboks as itinerary is released

Gatland rescued Lions brand, now to protect itGatland rescued Lions brand, now to protect it

Gatland fires back at Jones after ruling out coaching EnglandGatland fires back at Jones after ruling out coaching England

Warren Gatland announced as Lions head coach for 2021 South Africa tourWarren Gatland announced as Lions head coach for 2021 South Africa tour

More in this Section

Donegal chairman: 'The fundraising and sponsorship nearly takes up your whole year'Donegal chairman: 'The fundraising and sponsorship nearly takes up your whole year'

Mayo GAA secretary thanks Tim O'Leary in annual reportMayo GAA secretary thanks Tim O'Leary in annual report

Barrister makes doping allegations against Shane Sutton over Tour of IrelandBarrister makes doping allegations against Shane Sutton over Tour of Ireland

Injured Stones ruled out of Dinamo Zagreb clashInjured Stones ruled out of Dinamo Zagreb clash


Lifestyle

Is it really faster to fly? These environmentally-friendly trips dispel that myth, says Sarah Marshall.5 European journeys which are surprisingly quicker by train

It’s set to be unisex and will hopefully feature more clothes you can wear outside the gym.Everything we want to see from Beyoncé’s upcoming Ivy Park x Adidas collection

The mother-of-three speaks to Liz Connor about the recipe for getting the perfect night’s rest.Christine McGuinness on how to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve

Carol O’Callaghan gets top expert tips on how to lay and decorate a glorious Christmas dinner table, creating a festive but stylish look to wow your visitors.Your go-to guide to laying the perfect Christmas table

More From The Irish Examiner