ROB ANDREW’S criticism of New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and his tactics at the breakdown has been dismissed as an “old story” by All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
Henry has returned fire on Andrew after the stand-in England manager hit out at McCaw, accusing the New Zealand skipper of constantly being on the wrong side of the ruck during the All Blacks’ 37-20 win at Eden Park last weekend.
But Henry said such criticism of his star openside flanker was par for the course against teams from the northern hemisphere.
“That’s an old story isn’t it? It happens every time we play against European sides. They are always contesting his legality at the tackle area. I guess we’re used to it,” said the All Blacks coach.
“He’s the best player in the world in that particular position and at that particular skill and people find it hard to handle.
“We think we’re very fortunate to have a player of that immense ability playing in that position which attracts a bit of interest because he does turn over a bit of ball.”
Henry sparked the war of words with Andrew, who is standing in for Martin Johnson on England’s two-Test tour in New Zealand, at the post-match press conference in Auckland when he accused the English of being passive in the scrum in the latter stages of the game.
But the former England fly-half hit back saying the problem lay with the All Blacks as most of the scrum collapses had been on England’s ball.
Henry responded to Andrew’s assertions after naming his squad for Saturday’s second Test by saying: “I think if there is a contestable scrum we’re going to get a better product and I think if both sides contest the scrum the results are going to be better all round for the spectators, for the players and what we’re trying to achieve.”
Henry has made four changes to his starting line-up for the second Test in Christchurch with centre Richard Kahui and wing Rudi Wulf set to make their All Blacks debuts. Blindside flanker Adam Thomson will make his first start. Full-back Leon MacDonald comes in for Mils Muliaina.
Thomson’s inclusion sees Rodney So’oialo return at the back of the scrum and Sitiveni Sivivatu switches from the left to right wing.
Conrad Smith, Anthony Tuitavake and Jerome Kaino have made way for Kahui, Wulf and Thomson, while Muliaina drops to the bench.
* Auckland police are investigating an allegation against four England players following an alleged incident in the team hotel after Sunday’s defeat to New Zealand’s All Blacks. The Rugby Football Union said last night the players were helping with inquiries.
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