Wellington - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday the
media needed to stop ridiculing British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland
and disputed any suggestion of animosity between the pair.
He also refused to engage in a war of words with journalists
over potentially dangerous play by Lions players in the first Test, describing
rugby as "a big boy's game".
The Lions tour of New Zealand has been filled with barbs
from both sides, with Hansen variously calling Gatland "desperate"
and "predictable" while the Lions coach has claimed he had Hansen
"worried" and accused the All Blacks of deliberate foul play.
But in the countdown to the second Test in Wellington on
Saturday, with the Lions needing to win to keep the series alive, Hansen poured
cold water on talk of mutual dislike between the coaches, both of them New
He claimed it was an issue ramped up by the media and took
particular exception to one local newspaper cartoon depicting Gatland as a
"To ridicule someone is not right and a bit
disappointing really," he told a packed press conference.
"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 ... so to come out and do
that (cartoon) I think you're ridiculing somebody that doesn't deserve it.
"I read somewhere that I 'lashed out at Warren
Gatland'. I haven't lashed out at Warren Gatland, at all. I've got a lot of
respect for him and I'm looking forward to having a beer with him and a chuckle
"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 say 'well,
that's actually not how it went'."
Although Gatland has suggested the All Blacks may have been
trying to deliberately injure Lions players in the first Test, Hansen refused
to bite when questioned about dubious incidents involving Lions prop Mako
"It's just something that happens in the game. Vunipola
will probably look at it and think 'I was a bit stupid' but move on, we've got
another game coming up," Hansen said. "There's no point dragging
Hansen said there were citing commissioners to catch any
foul play that may have escaped the referee and he was not going to debate any
issues that went unpunished.
"Move on from it. I don't know any rugby players that
we've played against or I've coached, who intentionally go out to hurt anyone.
"Rugby's a big boy's game played by big boys and people
Gatland, when told of Hansen's comments, also denied any
friction describing himself as "pretty mild" and complimentary of the
All Blacks but he referred to some people having "a personal
campaign" against him.
"I don't know if there's any hostility from this side
but hopefully we can have a good game of rugby and maybe enjoy a beer together