WELLINGTON May 21 (Reuters) - World Cup winning coach Graham Henry has heavily criticised the influence of the assistant match officials following the Auckland Blues' 23-3 Super Rugby loss to the Canterbury Crusaders at the weekend.
Henry, who guided the All Blacks to their second World Cup victory in 2011, is an assistant to Blues coach John Kirwan and has taken a back seat in facing the media this season.
The 66-year-old, however, was back to his mischievous best on Tuesday, claiming the television match official in the loss in Christchurch must have been "blind" not to have awarded Blues winger Frank Halai a try during the second half.
"It was obvious to me, I don't know, he was probably a blind TMO was he? It's an obvious try," Henry said. "I could see it and I'm blind."
The Crusaders had dominated the Blues' set piece, particularly the scrum, and were quick off the line in wet conditions to give them a victory that moved them past the Auckland-based side into fifth on the Super Rugby standings.
Henry, however, felt the Crusaders may have been a little too close to the limits of the law on defence.
"When you're watching the game you see so many offsides in the line from a ruck," he added.
"I would say there was probably 20 times at the weekend when guys were offside from the ruck."
Henry was also annoyed at the influence of the assistant referees when Blues lock Culum Retallick received a yellow card from referee Glen Jackson late in the first half for a deliberate knock down while the Crusaders were hot on attack.
"They threw the ball at him," Henry said while adding the match officials should have instead been concentrating on the offside line.
"We are sitting in the coaches' box, and I'm sure the Crusaders coaches are doing the same thing, saying 'offside ref, offside line umpires'.
"Those are the things they are there for. Not some controversial knock down of the ball in the five metre channel, yellow card.
"Just do the basics right and we have a good game of footy.
"Those sort of things frustrate you but that's part of the game. They were better than us, we accept that, they deserved to win the game." (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Patrick Johnston)