Monday 25 September 2017

'Lions don't know what they are doing' - All Blacks boss Hansen ramps up mind games with Gatland

 

All Blacks coach Steven Hansen. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
All Blacks coach Steven Hansen. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Steve Hansen has ramped up the pressure on Warren Gatland, suggesting the Lions don't know what they are doing 15 days out from the first Test against New Zealand.

The All Blacks coach questioned whether commercial interests had gotten in the way of team preparation in forcing the tourists to play twice in the days after they made the long trip south, and he disputed Gatland's assertion that there is not much difference between the Super Rugby teams and the reigning world champions.

Gatland, who is sweating over the fitness of captain Sam Warburton who misses tomorrow's game against the Crusaders, is already under the cosh after losing the to the Auckland Blues on Wednesday and losing his cool in the days leading up to the game when the topic of his teams' style of play was raised.

Things don't get any easier against the Super Rugby-leading Crusaders in Christchurch tomorrow.

And Hansen, who named uncapped pair Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape in his squad for the series, weighed in with his two cents on his opposite number's struggles.

"I don't think they do," he said when asked if he was developing an understanding of what the Lions are doing.

"I think they're too busy trying to… it's hard for us, we find it hard moulding the five different franchise players, but they've got five (four) countries, and some of the countries don't like each other.

It's difficult for them coming here on a Wednesday and playing on a Saturday. That's an impossible task, it doesn't matter who you are and I don't know why they decided to do that… maybe they could've got here a little bit earlier.

"I don't know whether that's because commercialism took over from high performance, you'd have to ask them. If it is, then they should have argued more for high performance."

Gatland yesterday handed a first start to the 11 players who had not previously started, including Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony. Alun-Wyn Jones was named captain.

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Irish Independent

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