Monday 27 January 2020

New Zealand's Kaino denies intending to hurt Lions scrum-half Murray

New Zealand star Jerome Kaino says he would never go on the pitch to "target someone and intentionally hurt them".

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland claimed the All Blacks had illegally targeted scrum-half Conor Murray's standing leg when box-kicking during the Lions' 30-15 loss in last Saturday's first Test at Eden Park.

And footage shared widely on social media from the game has highlighted a 10th-minute incident when flanker Kaino clattered into Murray's standing leg just after the number nine had kicked possession.

Gatland's comments led to his opposite number Steve Hansen ringing a national radio station to condemn the remarks.

And now Kaino has given his side of events during a media conference at New Zealand's team hotel in Wellington.

"It is never our intent to go out and intentionally injure someone outside the laws," he said.

"We play hard and we play fair. It is never our intention to go out and try and single anyone out.

"It was more timing. He (Murray) is very quick getting the ball to foot and there was a bit of timing there.

"But what has been said out there about malice and intention to hurt someone, that is never the case.

"It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone, and to play outside the rules. I wasn't cited (for foul play), I don't think I should have been.

"I've seen it (incident) reviewing the game and it has popped up on my Twitter feed about a million times, so it is a bit hard to avoid it.

"I guess people have their opinions on it. All I can say is it wasn't my intention to go out there and target his planted foot.

"I think what is at question here is my intent and what kind of player I (am), and all I can say is that I never go into a game thinking that I am going to target someone and intentionally hurt them. I just wanted to clear that up."

Kaino explained exactly what he was trying to do during a ferocious opening to a game the All Blacks eventually won 30-15.

"I didn't go in to tackle him," he added. "I rolled into his leg.

"What I was trying to do, his swinging foot, if you can disrupt that, it's like an ankle-tap, so you disrupt the kick. My timing was off and I rolled into his planted foot, and that's what I believed happened.

"We know their strengths and we see ways where we can pressure them. Not only him (Murray). They have so many strengths in their team and we try to come up with ways where we can nullify them, but it's all within the rules and the laws.

"Obviously, there is more attention being brought to it, and their kicking game is obviously a strength of the Lions. We need to make sure we are on the right side of the law when we do things and I thought I was there.

"Individually, a lot of us weren't too happy with our performances and focussing on other comments is not going to fix individual performances. I don't think it bothers us too much what is going on outside.

"It is a different game now and a different world with social media added into it. But you learn how to block things out and you have great people around you that you get good advice from."

Murray has been targeted directly when box-kicking in the past, with Munster reacting furiously when claiming Glasgow had targeted the Ireland scrum-half in their 14-12 Champions Cup win at Scotstoun five months ago.

France's Jerome Garces will referee the second Test, with Gatland saying he will raise the issue in meetings with the officials later this week.

PA Media

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