Tuesday 26 March 2019

Steve Hansen strongly dismisses Richie McCaw controversy and leaps to his captain's defence

Kieran Read and Richie McCaw sit in the dressing room following the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on October 24, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Kieran Read and Richie McCaw sit in the dressing room following the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on October 24, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has issued a strong defence of his captain Richie McCaw after the openside flanker was caught up in a disciplinary storm since yesterday's World Cup semi-final win over South Africa.

Television footage that circulated on social media last night appeared to show the legendary All Black clip Francois Louw with his elbow during the first-half of the 20-18 win, although closer investigation shows it may have been his hip that caught the Springbok blindside who got up straight away and played a full part in the rest of the game.

That led to a host of former internationals calling for the New Zealand skipper to be cited, but Hansen dismissed the incident and said there was no case to answer.

"No. There’s nothing in it so there’s nothing to talk about. Everyone’s got a bit excited and we move on," he said.

“He’s a man that draws a lot of attention because he’s a great player, maybe the greatest player in the history of the game, and if he’s not in your team, then he’s a pain in the rear end.

"So if you can’t get him on the track, let’s get him off the track sort of thing. It’s a mark of respect really. He takes it in his stride.”

Hansen praised his side's composure in the tight final 10 minutes that saw them through to the final with a two-point win.

“I had a lot of faith in our composure. We’ve been in a lot of tight spots over the past four years and before that," he said.

"When you’ve got the experience we’ve got, and a lot of people have made noises about guys being too old, but they’re in good form and if they’ve been around a long time, they bring a lot of experience. You get a lot of inner self-belief from that.”

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