Hansen hits back at claims of cynical play
August 25, 2013
The All Blacks didn't need help from Jaco Peyper, Steve Hansen said © Getty Images
Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen delivered an angry riposte to Wallabies counterpart Ewen McKenzie after Australian accusations of cynical play in the Bledisloe Cup Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
McKenzie criticised South African referee Jaco Peyper on Saturday for letting the All Blacks off the hook with what the coach described as a series of poor decisions during New Zealand's 27-16 win, and he followed up on Sunday with allegations that New Zealand infringed repeatedly under pressure, happy to concede a series of penalties rather than a try.
"Once you concede a penalty and the referee plays advantage then it just seems to me to be open slather to concede another one and another one because he has already conceded the first one so you already know it's going back [for a penalty]," McKenzie said. "I'm going to be asking the question about how it's dealt with."
McKenzie's thoughts were echoed by captain Will Genia, and they follow claims after the first Test in Sydney that yellow cards should have been used to deter cynical All Blacks methods on defence.
McKenzie said the Wallabies should have been rewarded for their early dominance in Wellington either with tries or the sight of All Blacks offenders in the sin-bin; they got neither as Australia crashed to a 15th successive loss on New Zealand soil and were left counting 10 successive failed challenges to retrieve the Bledisloe Cup.
The Wallabies, in particular, were seething after Aaron Smith and then Kieran Read infringed at the ruck after Christian Leali'ifano had been pulled down a metre from the line in the 24th minute. Australia already had a penalty on advantage when Read cynically scragged Genia at the base of the breakdown with a try in the offing. Leili'ifano slotted the goal for a 6-0 lead but the Wallabies felt it should have been more and Read should have been sin-binned.
"When we do get a linebreak and then do get an advantage it seems like they just want to try and kill the ball so you we don't get to play off a line break or play over the advantage line," Genia said. "We get three points but ideally you want to get seven points."
The Wallabies also had a long advantage in the Kiwi quarter as they chased the game in the second half, but they lost their chance for a try when Conrad Smith raced up off-side as Genia passed to Scott Fardy.
Hansen described the comments in the wake of a 16-8 penalty count against Australia as "sour grapes", saying that similar claims could be made about illegal Wallabies tactics of taking out All Blacks players off the ball.
"[McKenzie] needs to be careful how far he takes that," Hansen said. "He might find that backfires on him. Ewen can do what he wants, I guess. I could sit here and pick holes about how often they took us out and held onto us after the ball was played and obstructed us in the midfield."
New Zealand confirmed their trans-Tasman dominance in Wellington (video available only in Australia)
Hansen said that McKenzie's attack on Peyper was designed to shroud shortcomings in the Wallabies game, and he urged his fellow coach to focus on his team rather than criticising officials. "If they think that's why they lost the game then ... usually you're better off just to play the game and get on with it," Hansen said. "You could pick holes in every decision made. But where does it get you?"
Hansen was happy with Peyper's performance, which he described as consistent. He agreed that an apparent shoulder charge by Ma'a Nonu warranted a second look by match officials, but he said that justice was served when no citing was forthcoming. "The hardest job on the field at the moment is the referee's. They're getting put under a massive amount of pressure from their own boss. They don't need coaches putting it on them either."
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup